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.
The Committee is developing guiding principles upon which the “small area plan” for our area will be based. Four subcommittees are considering land use, transportation, community character, and safe pedestrian connections. Much attention has been paid to the undeveloped parcels near Estes Drive and MLK. Discussions have touched on identifying possible new uses that would not cause additional traffic clogging this major intersection. Also discussed has been new street connections, connecting existing ones, and changing existing uses in the area.
The next opportunity for community input will be on April 4th. At this meeting the steering committee will continue discussions in subcommittees. Public comment is allowed at each of these subcommittee meetings. On April 9th the entire steering committee will discuss the small group guiding principles. The staff is planning another opportunity to hear from the public.
The public is invited to comment on the drafts out there so far. Megan has asked that comments be sent by noon April 2 to her. Go here to see the drafts.
Community members proposed and the Town Council agreed to adopt a model for a small area plan for our area (see map) that will include input from the community on a regular basis. The so-called “accordion model” was designed so that all interested community members can give input at an early stage in the process.
In this spirit, the Central West Focus Workshop was held March 2 from 9 to 1 pm at University Mall. About seventy people participated, including a number of Town staff, members of a high school civics class, 17 steering committee members and fifteen residents from the impact area. The Town-hired consultant will share the results of the input received.
The first Central West Focus area was held on December 19, 2012 at the Town’s Transit Center. All the materials for the meeting been posted on the Town’s webpage. The neighbors took detailed notes which are found here: Dec 14 Steering Committee
Mayor Kleinschmidt greeted steering committee members and said that he expected recommendations would fit in with the neighborhoods and benefit the entire Town.
Deana Rhodeside, the consultant hired by the Town, moderated the meeting. Major points of agreement were: preference expressed for the Committee to have a strong role in setting the agenda; agreement to use a consensus model for decision making; and preference to meet more frequently than once a month in order to keep momentum going. The Consultant’s proposed schedule and timing of a charrette were discussed but were not approved.
Only a portion of the Consultant’s agenda was covered in the meeting. Steering Committee members raised many questions about the planning process suggested by the Consultant. Several steering committee members mentioned they had never participated before in this kind of process.
The Committee asked the consultant to send a new schedule with more frequent meetings and to provide a means for making suggestions on the next work plan. The Consultant said she would come back with new drafts for steering committee comment and invited members to email suggestions. No date has been set for the next meeting.
All steering committee meetings are open to the public. About 9 – 10 members of the public attended and observed the discussion. Public comment was taken. Council Member Jim Ward recommended the Committee reserve time for public comment at the beginning and end of each meeting. Dan Bruce suggested the Committee make use of existing data from the Carolina North studies. Dave Sidor recommended that the Committee review the Council resolution approving the committee and the community recommendations at the next meeting. Another commenter urged the use of citizen staffed study committees who could meet with experts and share information.
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Please note that the Town has announced a “Sketching Chapel Hill” event in late January. The Consultant mentioned this session at the Dec 19 Central West meeting. It appears to be related to the 2020 plan and the Central West study but not much detail has yet been offered. See the steering committee members here.
Happy New Year!