Mark Kleinschmidt, Mayor of Chapel Hill, presented his standard 15 minute “thank you” address commending the Committee for their work. He did not attend the June 24th Council meeting and has not yet reviewed that meeting’s video, but still urged the Committee to maintain a sense of urgency to complete work by the original Nov. 25, 2013 schedule.
During the Public Comments segment, an Estes Drive landowner with undeveloped land made an impassioned plea to not add traffic lanes to Estes, just add bicycle and pedestrian improvements. An area resident made a plea for adding a “special needs” playground in a portion of the undeveloped land, since there is currently no such facility east of Greensboro, NC.
The Steering Committee discussed and approved the Central West Work Plan for the final portion of the Committee’s work. Discussion about the work plan included the following concerns: (1) little time in the plan is devoted to data collection or analysis and discussion; (2) only one Concept Map was going forward to the Sept 4 Public Workshop as opposed to a menu of choices; and (3) would the Committee be able to keep to the tight schedule to produce a Small Area Plan and Concept Map by September in time for review by Town Advisory Boards.
There are many meetings scheduled in the summer months when many are out of town, yet little time is allotted for the serious issues of determining how to minimize Estes traffic growth, enhance safety for children walking and riding bicycles to the local schools, and rationally analyze the proper density, building height, and usage for the “planning area” development.
Over an hour was spent reacting to the staff exercise that asked for preliminary opinions on density, height and use for each of 9 undeveloped tracts of land. It appears that the key development decisions will be made by averaging the votes of the Committee members collected via the recent member survey of their opinions for each of these 9 parcels defined by staff.
Jim Ward, the newly appointed Council liaison to the Steering Committee, made a suggestion that “performance based” usage descriptions be provided for each of the parcels so that specific special uses, such as a daycare, are not automatically eliminated by conventional zoning definitions.
Amy Ryan, co-chair, gave a brief report about what was heard from the public at the June 24th report out to the Town Council. The Committee did not react to the specific recommendations in the letter that was presented and endorsed by over 200 citizens, with the exception of the recommendation to employ an outside facilitator. That item was on the agenda and Mickey Jo Sorrel presented the reasons why one was needed for the group. Mia Burroughs made the motion to hire one and the motion received 8 votes for and 8 voting against and 1 abstention. A Council member recommendation for the Committee to walk the steep, environmentally sensitive property behind the YMCA along the south side of Estes Drive was left open.