Council passes 2020 Comprehensive Plan, June 25

On June 25  the Town Council approved the Chapel Hill 2020 Plan.  Alan Tom presented our statement which requested a MLK/Estes planning area  which would look at a larger area than just Estes Drive.  The Council directed staff to prepare a plan for a process this summer and to bring it back for the Council to review on September 5th.

Earlier in April, the Town Council critiqued the concept plan for Carolina Flats, a plan calling for a hotel, parking and seven apartments designed for student housing at the corner of Estes Drive and MLK. View the materials, the concept plans, and the video hereWe said this project runs counter to the residential character of Estes Drive and would increase traffic and jeopardize the safety of school children and pedestrians.

Estes Neighbors have been discussing what kind of development they would like to see in the future.  Take the online survey.  We will send the results to the Town to incorporate in Chapel Hill 202o.

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Comprehensive Plan

The final draft of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan is out.  Please review here.  The future focus chapter language has improved. The chapter on Estes/MLK is appropriately neutral in tone.

When we met with Town staff we explicitly requested that the community discussions be held in the fall.  The staff language on page 45 refers to an Estes Drive Corridor study occuring in the summer.

“With Council endorsement, the Town staff will initiate a review of the policies and regulation, including land use, for the following specific area in Chapel Hill:  Estes Drive Corridor – An  immediate priority for the summer of 2012 with in-house support and external facilitation and/or consultant support”.

A bit of background:

On May 21 Watson Bowes, on behalf of Estes Neighbors, presented a petition to the Council requesting a small area planning process to take a broader look at the MLK and Estes Drive planning area.  Earlier in April, the Town Council critiqued the concept plan for Carolina Flats, a plan calling for a hotel, parking and seven apartments designed for student housing. View the agenda materials, the concept plans, and the video hereWe said this project runs counter to the residential character of Estes Drive and would increase traffic and jeopardize the safety of school children and pedestrians.


Developers also ask for small area study for Estes-MLK area

Members of the Estes Neighbors Coalition have been asking the town to implement a small area study for the Estes-MLK area (the MLK South future focus area, with specific parameters yet to be determined).  On June 6, several neighbors met with the town’s planning staff to discuss these issues.  At that meeting, we learned that Scott Radway, on behalf of the developers of the Carolina Flats proposal, has already contacted the town to request a small area study — but an accelerated process that would consist of 3-4 meetings and be completed by September 2012.  (The developer’s proposal is at  2012-06-01 Estes-MLK Study Proposal.) Estes Neighbors has asked the Town for studies of the area to be conducted at deliberate pace, beginning in the fall of 2012, with broad participation from all relevant stakeholders.  While we are pleased that the developers have expressed an understanding of the need for good communication, we will emphasize that this process must be guided by a focus on the larger good of the town and community, and cannot be rushed to serve the interests of one group.

It is rare indeed when all parties, the neighbors, the Town and the developers agree a conceptual planning process is needed. It is our hope that everyone involved in this planning process will be willing to take the time to do it right.

Estes Neighbors Meeting, Sunday April 15th

To Estes Hills, Huntington-Somerset, Coker Hills, Coker Hills West, Coker Woods, Mt Bolus, and Lake Forest neighbors:

Join us at 4 pm Sunday to discuss our vision for the undeveloped property along Estes Drive.  We want to gather your ideas on what uses you think would work best for land near this busy intersection.  We will discuss the Carolina Flats proposal as well and decide what points we want to emphasize to the Town Council on April 23rd.

Contact Winsome Leadbetter for more information about the meeting.

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.

Town Council hears from 2020 stakeholders

About 50 people, including Estes Neighbors, attended the Town Council meeting Monday night to support 16 speakers asking the Town Council for modifications in the process to develop a Comprehensive Plan. In an open letter to the Council  participating citizens told of their experiences in the stakeholder meetings.  The petitioners feel it is unrealistic to compete land use recommendations by June.  The petitioners requested  mid-course corrections to the 2020 process to ensure greater representation of participants in the final plan decisions.  In addition, we asked the Council to leave out premature conclusions about land use until all affected neighborhoods can participate. That includes zoning changes to Estes Drive.

Laurie Cousart gave these remarks on behalf of Estes Neighbors. If you have a comment on the meeting tell us about it.

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