May 21, 2012
Dear Mayor and Council,
We are requesting tonight that the Council and staff work with Estes Neighbors to create an small area participatory process to develop a plan in accordance with the Town’s needs for future development. The Estes Neighbors is a group comprising six neighborhoods: Estes Hills, Huntington-Somerset, Coker Hills, Coker Hills West, Mount Bolus and Coker Woods who would be affected if zoning changes are made to the Town’s land use map.
As the Mayor wisely pointed out at the recent concept plan review of Carolina Flats, the Town has been asked to consider yet another student housing proposal that proposes vast amounts of parking and does not appear to fit the constraints of a site located near Carolina North and a major intersection. This intersection must continue to operate effectively to maintain the Town’s transportation system.
Fortunately the 2020 Comprehensive Planning effort offers the Town the opportunity to take a broader view and look at the undeveloped properties in the context of the new campus and the surrounding areas. We recommend new wording for the draft Comprehensive Plan on page 83, Area 3 “key considerations”. We think the draft consideration relating to Estes Drive can be improved and are submitting new language. Carolina North needs to be more than a footnote to planning for this area as the gateway to the new campus is adjacent to the Estes/Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (MLK) intersection. MLK already functions more efficiently as a transit corridor than does Estes. The small area plan scope could extend all the way to Hillsborough Road to include adjacent neighborhoods.
The timing is right for the Council to propose a more defined description of a process that would lay out a schedule and a format for community-based discussions on the “form, access and connectivity” for the MLK and Estes Drive area as cited in the draft plan. The more in-depth process would need to be built in consultation with the affected neighborhoods and involve direct input from UNC, local neighborhoods and interested residents. We envision something more detailed and lengthy than the 15-501 south discussions, but shorter than the Glen Lennox process.
Working with Town staff, UNC and the developer, we believe that this participatory process could occur by late summer or early fall.
Thank you for considering this proposal and we request you refer it to staff.
Watson Bowes MD, and Estes Neighbors