Category Archives: Central West Community Workshop

August 19, 7 and July 30 Steering Committee meetings

August 19 Staff action meeting notes are here.  The Committee now has 4 maps on the table found here. Several committee members told staff that they did not have sufficient content to be analyzed. The don’t show building foot prints, intensity or road circulations, unlike earlier maps. Staff shared an outline for the small area plan. Steering Committee David Tuttle explained he found the steering committee meetings lacking in dialogue and a real exchange of views.  He was saddened that committee members no longer seemed to care about taking a consensus recommendation to the Council – on  that the community and a committee minority would support.

August 7  Staff action notes are here. This meeting was frustrating to observe.  Because the Committee lacks a skilled facilitator, committee members engage in serial conversations and conversation is not around one topic.  Decisions as recorded by co chair report are here.

  • Parcels B and C should have a mix of uses including: incubator (create relationship with Carolina North), significant residential along northern section, non-residential uses along Estes (intensities that are lower than Parcel A) and institutional uses such as a parks and recreation center.  An alternative scenario for this area should also be tested that would call for residential uses only on these parcels.
  • Consider a road connecting Somerset and the proposed road running along the south part of the YMCA property to MLK and have it tested for transportation impacts.
  • For area E, to apply environmental language from earlier discussions of areas G and H, and test two options: one that is residential, and one that is primarily residential with institutional/office uses along Estes Drive frontage.
  • Area J should be residential.
  • Because of meeting time constraints, the group was not able to make specific building height recommendations for areas A–F.  It was agreed that we would test on the range of heights suggested by a majority of committee members in the July 1st “homework” activity, with area C changed from 2-4 stories, with any decision that the Committee has already made to supersede the July 1st activity heights.
  • The group decided to test continuation of the area A retail strip south of MLK onto D and F. For testing purposes, we would assume that D would be a synthesis of uses and heights for areas A and B, and that F would assume an expansion of its current institutional use. A low-end use for Parcel D — institutional with a small area of retail — would also be tested..

July 30  Most of this meeting was a discussion about preferred land uses, intensities and heights for the undeveloped land south of Estes Drive.  Results are shown here.  Several members of the steering committee asked for a big picture discussion about data about land constraints and traffic for the area BEFORE making these decisions on a tract by tract basis.  They did not convince the co chairs of this approach. Whit Rummel presented his concept for retail, housing and civic uses for the undeveloped property north of Estes.

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Summary 6.24 report to Town Council

First, a huge thank you to over 200 members from all over the Chapel Hill community for supporting our letter to the Town Council for their June 24th meeting. The objective of our letter was to demonstrate that members of the Chapel Hill community are invested in the Central West consultation planning process and eager that it should succeed as the future model for planning in Chapel Hill.
Many participants in the process are frustrated that basic underlying issues of transportation and traffic, housing and economic needs, and school safety have not been discussed by the committee.  

What were we asking for:
We requested that the Town Council support 6 key recommendations for the Steering Committee to improve implementation of the community-driven consultation process:

  • Encourage Steering Committee to deliberate on major issues and take more control of the process
  • Provide a neutral facilitator, to keep discussions on topic, hear all voices are reach outcomes
  • Improve outreach to key constituents such as the schools’ community
  • Keep development compatible with the Principles and Objectives already co-developed in consultation with the community
  • Gain data for evaluations so that the Steering Committee can make evidence based decisions
  • Arrange for a walk-through of land with old deciduous forest

 What did we achieve?
In general the Town Council gave few specific directions for interventions to the Steering Committee. However, in response to our specific recommendations as listed above:

  • Several Council members suggested that achieving a quality product was more important than meeting the November deadline. Whether the deadline would be extended depends on the actual progress made. (To be reviewed at TC meeting in September)
  • The Council voted 5:2 against Matt Czajkowski’s motion (supported by Lauren Easthom) to appoint an external facilitator to the Steering Committee, but the door was left open for the Steering Committee to reflect on this decision and request a facilitator for some of their future more difficult discussions.
  • The Council noted that the Principles and Objectives seemed consistent with the 2020 goals.  The Council did not define the desired density. Lee Storrow noted that he liked the declining density from MLK along Estes Drive.  Donna Bell noted her preference that this land be developed in a way that increases the tax base and prevents CH from becoming a bedroom community.
  • Jim Ward felt it was very important that the Steering Committee obtain good data on the impact on schools and about what the DOT will require for the locations of the entrances and exits to the proposed development along Estes, and what changes Carolina North will bring. Jim also requested an economic analysis of the impact of the development on Town finances and of what population and parking is required to have successful retail there.
  • The Council recommended to the Steering Committee that they arrange a walk through of the environmentally sensitive areas as we had requested.
  • There was support to include citizens concept map in future Committee discussions. Fred Lampe presented the first revisions to this map.
  • Matt Czajkowski highlighted the fact that no member of the public had recommended ‘no development’ in Central West.
  • Jim Ward mentioned the need for an official Council liaison to the Steering Committee, and the Council designated him.

We are happy the Council took our recommendations seriously and we received some support.  The burden now rests on the Steering Committee to consider the feedback and recommendations they received.  With the principles almost behind them, the tough work of the Steering Committee begins  – data collection and analysis and finding consensus on a recommended approach – while ensuring the public consultation continues over the summer months and beyond.

I encourage you to attend their next meeting on July 1st to find out at first hand how the Steering Committee plan to move forward.  I welcome further reflections and thoughts from the many residents who were also at the Town Hall on Monday night. Citizens need to stay involved if they are to have voice in the future shape of Chapel Hill.

Debbie Jepson

May 18 Community Workshop

The Community Workshop was held on Saturday morning, May 18, at the Chapel Hill Public Library.  The purpose of this Workshop was to gain community feedback to the Planning Principles and Concept Maps which are under development by the Central West Steering Committee.

The first big activity was a ranking exercise of principles and objectives that are to guide the final recommendations to the Town Council. Staff report is here: Planning Principles and Objectives_For 5-30-2013 Meeting.

The second activity involved small group discussion of  three concepts presented by the Consultant, including new roads. Presentation by consultant is here.

Participants were told that they could review but not consider a fourth map which reflects the current zoning and land use pattern in the Estes and MLK area.  A large majority of those attending voiced objections and felt a lower intensity map should have been presented for consideration.