Letter to Council, Mar 27

Mayor Mark and Council Members

Thank you all for listening attentively last night to the many stakeholders concerned about the 2020 process.

We agree that the 2020 Plan is challenging, and more so when all have been invited to the table.  We observed your interest in our recommendations and will follow with interest what the Manger and the 2020 leadership will do with them.

One important question we posed was not answered in the discussion. On page 3 of the Manager’s memorandum it says, “The Chapel Hill 2020 Plan will include land use policy guidance and recommended changes to the Land Use Plan. …One of the priority implementation efforts will be to address critical areas in the community where rezoning would help… (in) achieving the goals of Chapel Hill 2020.” Is the Manager recommending land use changes for the June document or for the later implementation stage? Citizen input is crucial to building a community supported new Comprehensive Plan, and we don’t believe the current schedule would achieve the collaborative processes required to begin major land use changes.

It sounded to us from the Manger and Mayor’s remarks that it is your intention to proceed with a plan in June that will actually map the areas slated for greater density, showing some indication of future land use recommendations, not just identify the key areas slated for later discussion.  We would appreciate an clear answer whether or not that is your current thinking.

We presented to you the reasons why we believe including maps in the June document is a mistake:

  • the consultant has described these maps as very rough beginnings to a process, not conclusions; only material that is complete and endorsed by 2020 participants should be enshrined as part of the final Plan
  • 2020 leadership has acknowledged that the Future Focus exercises that produced the maps were poorly framed, which calls the validity of the map conclusions into question
  • the maps view development areas in isolation, and do not flow from stakeholder decisions about the needs of the entire town and the still-to-be-determined goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan
  • experience with the Northern Area Task Force has shown that maps published by the town as part of an official document will be used in ways that the creators of the document do not intend or endorse

We will continue to press this issue and advocate for the collaborative process we requested in our recommendation to determine the next stage of the Comprehensive Plan process. It is our hope that after the June document presents the stakeholder goals and objectives to the community, we can move forward to a focused process of making land use recommendations that can then be incorporated into the plan’s implementation phase.

Thanks!

Julie McClintock

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