Published: Jun 26, 2012 12:00 PM
Modified: Jun 26, 2012 05:47 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The town now has a new starting point to guide its development and goals through the next decade.
The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously approved the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan Monday night, agreeing that the plan was a good foundation for the town’s future planning with enough flexibility for additional public and council input.
Dozens of residents spoke about the plan and its implementation process along with the leaders of the town committees that reviewed it. Several residents said the implementation process should have more details and a more defined scope and timeline.
"Almost no significant progress has been made towards a new land use plan so there’s a large amount of work that needs to be done," said resident John Morris. "I think we need a more bold and far-sighted approach than what is currently outlined in the implementation chapter ... lets go ahead and do some creative thinking in these areas."
But the council was briefed on the implementation plan when it was being created in February, said Chapel Hill 2020 co-chairman George Cianciolo.
"I challenge the fact that this is something new, implementation has been discussed for a number of months now," he said.
The 2020 plan directs town staff to review policies and regulations in specific areas in Chapel Hill during the summer and be brought back to the council for consideration in September. Focus areas include the Estes Drive corridor and Ephesus Church Road/Fordham small area plan. The plan also directs town staff to create processes for updating the Land Use Management Ordinance, which determines what can be built and where in town, town design guidelines and stormwater regulations.
The 2020 plan will also serve as the foundation for updating the town’s development review process, and coordinate Town Council goals with plan initiatives.
The council will review the plan regularly with bi-monthly work sessions and an annual update beginning May 2013, Town Manager Roger Stancil wrote in memo. The council will consider a more comprehensive review of the plan every five years.
The council recognized that the plan was a "living document," that will change and adapt over the next several years.
"This is really a living document we’re going to be living with for many years," said Council member Gene Pease. "The document we see tonight is phase one of that."
The 2020 plan has included an extraordinary amount of public input, Pease said. It needs to also fix the town’s broken development review process, he said.
"I think we have to change," he said. "That’s the primary reason I ran for council."
Some residents have criticized the pace of the plan over the last few months, asking the council to slow down and narrow the plan’s focus. But council members rejected that and agreed Monday that moving forward with the new plan was necessary.
"To put the brakes on now is a mistake," said Council member Penny Rich. "We need to move forward ... this is the vision for the future and we’ve got to get to the next step."
It’s important for the council to continue discussion and public review of the plan, said Council member Jim Ward.
"I don’t want us to start over again or feel like we’re starting over again in 10 years," he said. "I hope it’s a plan that has been updated over the next 10 years and feel appropriate and current 10 years from now."
The council will discuss Chapel Hill 2020 again and receive and update from town staff during its work session on September 5.