Published: Apr 08, 2012 02:28 PM
Modified: Apr 08, 2012 02:29 PM
The Chapel Hill 2020 planning process has done a good job getting people to think about how the town should grow.
But by linking a vision for the town’s future and a land-use plan to carry it out, the process took on too much too quickly. The town should separate the functions to give land use the consideration it can’t get under a June deadline for the draft plan reaching the Town Council.
Chapel Hill is in transition, and it’s a challenging time. A desire for a more lively downtown, a more balanced tax base and regional light rail have led to still controversial developments such as Greenbridge and East 54 and more under construction or on the drawing boards: 140 West, Charterwood and many others.
The debates show a lack of consensus, and perhaps majority support, for the direction the Town Council has taken the town in recent years. Chapel Hill 2020 is an admirable attempt to reassess, but as the June deadline closes in, the process has begun to fray.
Maps included in 2020 materials gave some people the perception that decisions had been made before consensus had been reached. The creation of a separate work group for U.S. 15-501 South, where the larger Obey Creek project, is proposed, gave some the impression that 2020 participants were not working fast enough, or perhaps reaching the conclusion, that some town leaders wanted.
At the March 26, council meeting more than 40 involved community members asked, reasonably we think, to separate the goals and objectives charge of the 2020 planning process from its land-use recommendations. We are heading into warmer weather, when thoughts turn more to softball, swimming pools and summer vacation than sitting in rooms in front of maps. We support the request.
Here is the latest draft community vision, released this past week. You can read the full draft on the town’s website at http://bit.ly/jxcgWD
A: “Chapel Hill will be a vibrant, connected community, a town that is accessible, affordable, sustainable, and strong. Residents of Chapel Hill will treasure their downtown, their diversity, and their university; they will enjoy the benefits of balanced development, a quality transportation system, green housing, and healthy neighborhoods.”
B: “Chapel Hill will be a destination location. Balancing growth, density, and the environment, it will feature collaboration between the university, the town, developers and the community. It will encourage integration of students into community, and build bridges between cultures, and neighborhoods through art. Chapel Hill will be a town that is truly green.”
C: “Chapel Hill will be a bright, dynamic community that celebrates diverse populations. It will accumulate and retain intellectual, entrepreneurial, and artistic capital. Valuing its history while building regional partnerships, Chapel Hill will be a compact, accessible, mixed-use place of opportunity with a high quality of life.”
D: “Chapel Hill will be the best college town in America. We will integrate the aspirations of the University and its students into our community life. We will build social and physical bridges among cultures and eighborhoods. Through wise and collaborative use of resources, we will strive for an affordable and sustainable community life. We will safeguard our history while building a diverse tax base and regional partnerships for a prosperous future. We will be safe for all, connected, economically sound, and innovative.”
If you think 2020 is too important to rush, let the Town Council know. Or better yet, attend the next 2020 community meeting this Thursday, April 12, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Rashkis Elementary School, 601 Meadowmont Lane.
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