Tag Archives: Open Letter to Town Council

7.1 Summary Steering Committee

Mark Kleinschmidt, Mayor of Chapel Hill, presented his standard 15 minute “thank you” address commending the Committee for their work. He did not attend the June 24th Council meeting and has not yet reviewed that meeting’s video, but still urged the Committee to maintain a sense of urgency to complete work by the original Nov. 25, 2013 schedule.

During the Public Comments segment, an Estes Drive landowner with undeveloped land made an impassioned plea to not add traffic lanes to Estes, just add bicycle and pedestrian improvements. An area resident made a plea for adding a “special needs” playground in a portion of the undeveloped land, since there is currently no such facility east of Greensboro, NC.

The Steering Committee discussed and approved the Central West Work Plan for the final portion of the Committee’s work. Discussion about the work plan included the following concerns: (1) little time in the plan is devoted to data collection or analysis and discussion; (2) only one Concept Map was going forward to the Sept 4 Public Workshop as opposed to a menu of choices; and (3) would the Committee be able to keep to the tight schedule to produce a Small Area Plan and Concept Map by September in time for review by Town Advisory Boards.

There are many meetings scheduled in the summer months when many are out of town, yet little time is allotted for the serious issues of determining how to minimize Estes traffic growth, enhance safety for children walking and riding bicycles to the local schools, and rationally analyze the proper density, building height, and usage for the “planning area” development.

Over an hour was spent reacting to the staff exercise that asked for preliminary opinions on density, height and use for each of 9 undeveloped tracts of land. It appears that the key development decisions will be made by averaging the votes of the Committee members collected via the recent member survey of their opinions for each of these 9 parcels defined by staff.

Jim Ward, the newly appointed Council liaison to the Steering Committee, made a suggestion that “performance based” usage descriptions be provided for each of the parcels so that specific special uses, such as a daycare, are not automatically eliminated by conventional zoning definitions.

Amy Ryan, co-chair, gave a brief report about what was heard from the public at the June 24th report out to the Town Council. The Committee did not react to the specific recommendations in the letter that was presented and endorsed by over 200 citizens, with the exception of the recommendation to employ an outside facilitator. That item was on the agenda and Mickey Jo Sorrel presented the reasons why one was needed for the group. Mia Burroughs made the motion to hire one and the motion received 8 votes for and 8 voting against and 1 abstention. A Council member recommendation for the Committee to walk the steep, environmentally sensitive property behind the YMCA along the south side of Estes Drive was left open.

Advertisements

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

Manager responds to our requests

From the Town 2020 Website

In the online message below from the Town Manager, Roger Stancil, responds to requests made at the March 26 Council meeting about the Town’s 2020 planning process. We will continue to press for all our neighborhoods to be involved in any studies of Estes Drive.

I want to provide an initial response to the comments made during the petition session in the Council meeting on the 26thof March.

My goal is to be clear about where we are and to minimize misunderstanding and confusion.  Thousands of people have been touched in the 2020 process and many of them have participated and given many hours of time to make this a community wide statement for the future.  It is important to be clear about how that participation will guide the Town’s actions on the future and the hard work of the coming year to develop the decision-making infrastructure that will transform the Vision into reality.   We will have a work session with the Planning Board and the Sustainability Committee on the status of 2020 on April 10th.  The second draft of the 2020 Plan will be circulated for comment on the 5th of April (this week). We will have a work session with the Council on May 7.

1. We agree with the goal of providing the Council with community goals and objectives by June.  The Theme groups are focused on refining their goals and will have two more opportunities to do so. We will also have an information advisory board meeting and a Council work session before June.

2. The co-chairs meetings are open to the public and any theme group member who wishes to attend can do so.  The purpose of those meetings is for the co-chairs, as neutral facilitators, to identify areas of overlap that merit further discussion by theme groups, advisory boards or Council.  The co-chairs will be asked to consider whether their theme group would have an interest in attending these meetings and if so, who might serve to share information in a collaborative manner.

3.  We all agree that the Future Focus maps will NOT be included in the goals and objectives.  While they represent valuable input, their main purpose at this point is to help the community identify areas where more conversation, analysis and study are of interest.  The second draft (due out April 5th) will begin to describe what we thought we heard in terms of each area for community input and refinement.  It will also identify some of those “next steps” where analysis is necessary to moving forward.

4. Staff will continue to work with the participants in the S15-501 group to identify broad brush recommendations, similar in scope to those in Draft 2 for the other areas, in a constructive, positive dialogue.  It was our charge to that group that their conversation be a model for civil discourse and we will continue to develop that model with the input we received from the S15-501 participants.

I hope these clarifications are helpful.  If you have questions, please let me know.

Open Letter to Town Council

To: Chapel Hill Town Council
From: Concerned 2020 Stakeholders
Re: Specific Requests to Council for Improving the 2020 Process

 We, the undersigned 2020 stakeholders, would like to respectfully ask that Council consider the following actions to address stakeholder concerns and ensure the success of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan:

(1) Endorse the completion of the goals and objectives section for the June vision document;

(2) Allow each theme group to choose two stakeholder representatives to join the co-chair discussions tasked by the Manager and the 2020 leadership with achieving consensus on conflicting theme group goals in the June vision document;

(3) Remove the Future Focus event maps, surveys, and conclusions from the June document and agree that work related to land use recommendations be continued in the subsequent implementation phase; and

(4) Develop, with stakeholders, a new process for creating the land use portion of the plan after the June document is complete. Include opportunities for comprehensive, analytical discussions of the impacts of proposed changes town-wide and to key growth areas to ensure that town goals and objectives are met in a balanced manner.

 A letter is attached, detailing our experience with the 2020 process and our reasons for requesting these changes.

March 25, 2012

An Open Letter to the Chapel Hill Town Council:

 The purpose of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan is to hear citizens’ vision for the future and write a vision plan and land use map to make that future a reality. The Town Manager says we are on our way to completing the Comprehensive Plan vision and framework document in June. With utmost respect to the Manager, the Town staff, and the 2020 leadership, many 2020 stakeholders feel that our work to date is far from finished and does not answer the fundamental question the Town Council wants to know: How much and in what way do we want to grow?

As we near the June deadline, we think it’s important for you to hear citizen input on the process, unfiltered by the voices of the 2020 leadership. Here’s our take on where the current process stands, where we feel it has succeeded, and where we still have work to do. We ask you to take our experience as stakeholders Continue reading