MLK-Estes Focus Area – What It Means For Citizens

Estes Neighbors: a network of 9 resident citizens’ groups living in Estes Hills, Somerset-Huntington, Coker Hills, Coker Hills West, Mt Bolus, Coker Woods, North Forest Creek, North Forest Hills and Hidden Hills.

This document was prepared by the Estes Neighbors planning group and represents in part what the Town has said about the focus area process and in part what we want the process to be, as many questions are still undecided.

WHAT? Planning for the MLK-Estes area –
Where did it come from and what’s the community’s role?

The Chapel Hill 2020 Plan adopted by the Council in June contained a broad vision and goals for our town, but without specific land use plans or a zoning map. To develop recommendations for future land use and zoning for 6 specific areas, the Town is initiatingcommunity-drivensmall area plans. The first is the MLK-Estes area.

WHERE? Exactly what area will be studied?

The geographic boundaries have not yet been decided. However, we believe the focus area must at least include north-south along MLK Blvd. from Hillsborough Street to Homestead Rd,, and east-west along Estes from Seawell School Rd. to Franklin St. These areas will soon be under intense development pressure resulting from Carolina North and private development interests and a larger study area will take into account cumulative impacts.

WHO? Who will be involved in the planning?

Anyone can participate. All meetings should be open to any interested persons.

We envision a representative steering committee in tandum with study groups for specific issues. Representation on that committee will include citizens, developers, and those concerned with relevant issues, such as schools and transportation. It is not clear how these members will be selected.

Many residents, land owners and developers are already involved. We welcome a collegial process with the help of a facilitator and the Town staff. Once boundaries of the area are agreed on, we expect that the Town will contact and inform all residents in the study area.

We recommend that developerswishing to participate in focus area discussions or the steering committee table any pending rezoning requests to avoid conflicts of interest regarding the final outcome of the process.

Elected Town Council Members will make final decisions. During the process we would like to see a planning board member and a council member on the steering committee so they can help guide the recommendations.

HOW? How will our voices be heard?

All meetings should be given public notice and open to anyone wishing to attend. The steering committee and study groups will make periodic reports to the broader community asking for advice in a reciprocal manner along the way.

A Council majority called for the community to be actively involved in the design of the focus area process and to approve the planning process after hearing additional public comments at a September Council meeting, possibly September 12.

Citizens should stay alert and speak up: in the small group discussions; by joining neighborhood listservs; by commenting on documents as they evolve; and by voicing our interests and concerns in the facilitated discussions.

WHEN?  When will meetings be held? Will we have input on that?

We don’t know the answer, but we think it’s important to hold meeting at the convenience of as many residents as possible.

How long can we expect this planning process to last?

The process will begin once Council signs off on how things will work in September.

We want it to be long enough to study the data necessary for clear understanding of the issues, long enough for sufficient community discussion to arrive at consensus, and long enough to formulate thoughtful and detailed recommendations.

AND BACK TO WHAT: What will the final product look like?

We want a descriptive detailed plan that will effectively and responsibly guide the inevitable changes coming to Chapel Hill, by addressing town-wide needs and local citizen interests.

With input from the Council, we anticipate that the staff and facilitator will help participants to describe the end product and how it will be used before the process begins.

GET INVOLVED! LET OUR VOICES BE HEARD! estesneighbors.wordpress.com

All residents are encouraged to join the Estes Neighbors network.
Join us by sending “subscribe” to estesneighbors@gmail.com

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