Meeting Summary by Co chairs Parker/Ryan
The Central West Steering Committee met on July 22 at the Chapel Hill Public Library from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Copies of all meeting materials can be found at www.townofchapelhill.org/centralwest All formal agreements of the Committee reflect the affirmative vote of at least 2/3 of the members present.
1. Opening Remarks: Megan Wooley began by sharing the goals for the meeting. She noted that Matt Sullivan from the Chapel Hill Police Department would be filling in for Loryn Clark, who was not able to attend the meeting.
Firoz Mistry moved that the committee permanently extend its second public comment period to 10 minutes. This measure was passed by general agreement.
2. Community Participation: Megan Wooley began by saying she had a request from community member Erin Langston to have Megan to read her comments to the group, since Erin was unable to attend. The committee discussed this request and decided by general agreement that it could not be accommodated, citing concerns about setting a precedent that might lead to having multiple such requests at a single meeting. It was noted that Megan forwards all written communications to the committee and that this practice allows people who cannot attend to express their thoughts directly to the committee members.
Several individuals from the community than shared comments/opinions with the group. Public comments recorded by Michael Albritton at the end of the summary.
3. Comments from Todd LoFrese: The assistant superintendent for support services with Chapel Hill–Carrboro City Schools spoke about the school board’s safety goals, plans that will soon be proposed for upcoming capital projects that will improve traffic circulation and student safety, and the statistics for how Estes and Phillips students go to school. A question and answer session with the committee followed.
4. Transportation Overview:
David Bonk, the Chapel Hill long range and transportation planning manager, gave a presentation on the existing transportation conditions in the Central West area, showed three possible road profiles for Estes Drive that would incorporate improved bike/ped facilities, and led the group through a sample exercise that showed how a trip generation analysis was conducted. He shared data from a rough estimate of trip generation from two of Rhodeside and Harwell’s June 4 concept plans—one at lower density with more residential (option 1 less 25%) and one at a higher density with more commercial (option 3). He noted that it was not possible to draw definitive conclusions from these initial estimates. Specific land use plans—along with possible internal circulation solutions—will be needed before the impacts on Estes Drive and MLK Boulevard can be ascertained.
Brian Litchfield, Chapel Hill Transit’s interim director, gave a short presentation about the planned transit alternatives analysis that will be conducted along the route that stretches from the Eubanks park and ride south along MLK and then through town to the Southern Village park and ride.
A question and answer period followed the transportation and transit presentations. The group decided by general agreement to extend the Q/A period to take up the time allotted for agenda item 5, Transportation Discussion, and that decisions on bike/ped facilities and road profiles scheduled for that time would be deferred to the committee’s next meeting.
5. Principle 13: The text for the proposed new principle 13 that had been developed by the Principles and Objectives Subcommittee was presented for discussion. The committee debated at some length whether “assess” was the correct word or if “consider” would be preferable. They voted unanimously to accept number 13 in principle, with the understanding that final wordsmithing would be conducted at a later date—most likely on August 27, when all principles and objectives will be reviewed.
6. Community Comment: The meeting concluded with comments from several community members.
Martha Petty: Today at 1:45 pm traffic was backed up on Estes Drive to Caswell because of trees being cut down at the corner of MLK and Estes. There is also no retention of water in the land in this area.
Lyn Kane: Traffic is heavier in this area than on Fordham Blvd. Flooding is a problem that we cannot ignore. Storm drains are never cleaned. This area has many pine trees which causes pine needles to fall and cover the drains during big storms and it is never cleaned by the city. There was a car totaled near the area due to the flooding from the recent large storm, yet this storm was considered a 500-year storm. This not a 500 year storm, it will happen again.
Kim Talikof: Stressed she was a parent of children in the schools and that she was representing those parents with children in the local schools. There is an existing problem – inadequate sidewalks, children have been struck by cars within the last 2 years. How will plans improve this situation? Then explained how she was listening for current data to address the needs for not only Estes but also surrounding feeder streets.
Jonathan Drake: Commented that he has 2 children who are students at Phillips. He then encouraged the committee to reach out to the parents at the schools so that when the summer was over and some plans were being delivered to council they would not be caught off guard with a lot of opposition to the plans.
John Morris: The mayor and council have spoken about the need for increasing tax base repeatedly, so why would the committee not want to address the financial impact of development in this area? Also mentioned that in the beginning everyone was excited about discussing these issues but now they are afraid. Why so? (Committee agreed to adopt Principle #13 but to word smith later).
Fred Lampe: The financial data is not complicated to access (then gave some examples). The number of parents that live within the walking zone yet still drive their kids to school should indicate how unsafe the area is. There was no discussion about traffic circles. We need to answer the questions of size, how pedestrians cross, where they can be located? There is significant development coming to this area, he is very skeptical of the 2% recommendation from David Bonk, especially considering the developments of Carolina North, Central West, and areas along Homestead.
Suzanna Dancy: Stated she believes strongly that the design of streets will determine the community’s character and that she is happy to see discussions about improvements to Estes. She also congratulated the town staff for putting together such an informative meeting.
Thanks to everyone who attended for your continued hard work and interest in the Central West process.