Tonight - Carolina North Public Input/Information Session

There is another Carolina North Public Input/Information Session tonight, February 19, 2009, at 7PM in the Town Council chamber.  There is already a draft of new language for the Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO) to cover development on the Carolina North property as well as a draft of a development agreement which would be the basis for the Town of Chapel Hill's oversight of this massive project. Both of these drafts as well as a great deal of other information can be obtained at

I'm not sure if the session will be broadcast on TW Cable 18 but I think the video will be online at the Town's website. I've been surprised at the relatively low turnout of citizens at the joint Town Council - Trustees meetings thus far.  I'm hoping citizens aren't waiting till the last minute to get involved in thinking about this project and its impact on Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and surrounding areas.  There is an awful lot of material to digest and I'm sure that Council members would appreciate hearing citizens' concerns sooner rather than later.



According to the official info Jason posted on the OP calendar (see Upcoming events below), it will be live on cable. I'm planning to go in person, though. I am still very concerned about this whole "development agreement" framework. It seems like we have to write whole new zone and enforcement mechanism in a couple of months, instead of using the Land Use management Ordinance (LUMO) that we have been using and improving upon for years.More details at:

we'll see how well attended this event will be...

tweeting live. @medicfurby

Suprised to see that there are only about 30 or 40 people here, including some Town and UNC staff. Looks like the format will be pretty wonky. After some introduction, there will be discussion of different areas the Town could regulate and then "group II draft issue comments" which might be small groups, I'm not sure.The Manager is opening the meeting. He says they have an address for public comments at and they are considering having additional meetings where the public can sit down with the Town and University staff who are actually crafting the rules.

There are big posters around the room with text about each of these issues:

  • design standards and public art
  • police/EMS/fire facilities and services
  • recreation facilities
  • greenways, connections
  • historic, cultural features
  • stormwater management on site
  • water use and reclamation
  • energy convervation, carbon credits
  • solid waste management
  • remediation of landfill
  • stream buffers
  • noise, lighting

David Owens is giving a review of how we got here. But it just starts with last year when the Town first considered using a "development agreement" to zone and regulate the Horace Williams tract.Owens: "This is a collaborative, negotiated arrangemen that both parties have to agree to." Goal is to have a proposal by April, approval by late June. A draft is online.I still don't understand why the Town is taking on all the work of creating this agreement fom scratch when we have a perfectly decent LUMO that we spent years on to figure out the same issues - granted: not at the same scale. Will Raymond (in the audience) asks: Is it really true that the Town will walk away if we can't come to an agreement about this?  There's no fall-back plan, so it's hard to believe. Owens' rewsponse is that problems will be identitified by dialog earlier in the process so it won't come to that. Says the trick is to balance giving people info that is concrete enough to respond to without spending too much energy on doomed plans. Says the fall-back is just to use the existing zoning (which is OI-2 and R-2), and evaluate proposals one at a time.

All the info around the room is also on the Town's web site. Gene Poveromo suggests looking under Council Agenda Items. The best place to look is at the agenda where the info was presented. Except of course this isn't a Council meeting, so I don't know where this stuff is. They are also collecting e-mails and other feedback and grouping them together.Too bad the town didn't have a Technology Board that could have helped to create a REAL online tool for education and dialog, instead of hacking together disorganized documents. Oh, wait.

They're taking public comment now, but I haven't had a chance to read the 20 posters of bullet points around the room so how can I comment? But of course, I did have 2 things to say:

  1. This development agreement is too much like the creation of the OI-4 zone which was a bad process with a bad product. I don't believe that we can really walk away.
  2. This is a great example of why the Town need a Tech Board (see above).

One guy, whose name I didn't catch said water was incredibly important and that there should be more attention to this. Tom Henckel on energy issues. Says you can have much bigger buildings if there's a central power plant. If there is such a plant, he hopes it will be fueled by renewable energy.The Manager reminds us that we can walk around and put post-it notes on the posted during or after the public comment.Julie McClintock has a series of questions. Draft Development Agreement (DA) mentions special uses and permitted uses, is the point to put in every possible/allowed use? When is the Council going to have a public discussion about the DA? This would help focus public attention, help folks understand what direction they're going, and where our input is needed. How does the DA get amended in the future? It's really important that transportation be included in the DA, not just refer to the not-yet-completed Long Range Transit Plan.The Manager responded that the Council is looking to have a meeting ont this. They are working on scheduling that and meeting with UNC Trustees as well.Bob Henshaw says he generally supports Carolina North. Notes that Mayor Foy has pointed out how hard it will be to respond to transportation issues. If we have to continue to respond as we go, he hopes the University will also PAY as we go. Hopes traffic impacts will be analyzed for each additional building. Would like a special public info session on transportation issue.Kathleen Gray interested in air quality. Suprised there is no poster in here on transportation issues. Would like a commitment that traffic won't impact adjacent neighborhoods (like we do with lighting). Supports the staff-public work sessions. Says that the Town needs to recognize which questions are answered for effective public participation.The Manager responds that they are planning to group comments together to point to where they are addressed. The reason transportation isn't listed is because of how the issues were broken out. These are only issues that folks thought there would be general agreement and that Town staff could work on. Virginia Guidry, grad student & Carrboro resident, serves on the student gov CN task force. They have some transportation recommendations. Tye location forms a good triad w/ downtown CH and Carrboro. Want to see connections for bike & ped in addition to bus. Need much better routes (Estes, gah!). They propose a "bike hub" for people who use active transportation to take a shower, store bikes out of the weather. Micky Jo Sorrel points out that we will need a lot more infrastructure (such as sidewalk, bike lanes) when traffic increases. Will Raymond is talking about the Town's Comprehensive Plan. We should ask for standards that go above and beyond the LUMO. Also concerned about similarity to OI-4 process. Would like to follow up on today with a work session utilizing the talent in our community. Not sure Nov-Dec was the best time to study traffic on MLK.Jason Baker wasn't planning to comment, but... was hoping for some creativity for public input in the CN process. Liks Julies idea of using metrics and terms that everyone can understand. More comment opportunities, some on campus, other forms of input, social media. I have decided that I'm going to read and comment on these "issues" later so I'll have an electronic record of it. If I write post-it's here, who know where they'll end up. Random note: almost every speaker starts with "I live about a mile from CN." Well so do I, that's because probably about half of CH is within a mile of it!

Next input/info sessions are scheduled forMarch 4, 1 - 5 pmApril 1, 7 - 9 pm

The time for the March 4 meeting is from 3:00 to 7:00 pm at Extraordinary Ventures on Elliott Road.  You can see the Town's news release if you to to Town's home page and click on Newsroom.  The release also includes the agenda.  Linda

Was unable to make last night's session, but had I been able to frame and ask about what concerns me, it would have been along the same lines as Henshaw, Gray, and Sorrel (acc/to Ruby's synopsis of their comments) regarding the Town's part in transportation and impact planning.It always seems to me that discussions of CN treat it as an island, to be dropped into HW Tract and attached to the outside world and the rest of the campus by a few strands of road or transit rail (if we're lucky).  Worries about interior bike paths or connections all the way to RTP seem somehow more compelling than the immediate impact on surrounding roads and neighborhoods - which is the Town's proper look-out.The inevitable answer to questions about what will happen to MLK Blvd, Estes and Estes Ext, Piney Mountain, Homestead, etc. always seems to suggest a reactive stance - we'll cope as things go along, we can't do anything until we know what the University is going to do. Fair enough, but only up to a point.We can tell right now that Estes, MLK and Piney Mountain  - as well as the smaller streets running off them - will be affected almost from the arrival of the first bulldozer.  It's more than needing sidewalks (which we already need); it's widening, possibly adding median strips or, conversely, traffic-calming measures.  I'd hate to see planning devolve to neighborhood vs. neighborhood battles to deflect the impact anywhere else, rather than an overarching, cooperative approach to the inevitable impact on the entire periphery of CN.

I find I have been making some of the same comments for years but here I go again.  I have seen town, university and private developments for years. Critical pedestrian structure seems always to be the last to be installed. I would like sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths to be created now in the area Known as Carolina North and on all the roads that head toward Carolina North.Loren

According to the CHHerald's Dan Goldberg, the TischlerBise report indicates CN may create a deficit for the town  of $196,000 annually, which would get to $2.9 million by the end of Phase 1 (after 15 yrs.), "in large part because
of the need to fund a new fire station to serve the area." 

The correct wording is that it could cost UP TO $196,000 annually. "Chapel Hill would incur $11.7 million or $11.9
million in direct impact deficits over 15 years under the two
scenarios. That is $780,000 or $792,000 annually. It would receive $8.8
million or $10.9 million in indirect benefits. Combined, those numbers
indicate Chapel Hill would run deficits of either $2.9 million or
$967,000 over the life of the first phase. That makes the annual
deficits either $196,000 at the high end or $64,000 at minimum."Once again this report highlights that residential development costs more than other types of development.

If you want to read the full report and appendices, go to Convissor

I did write "may" ('...may create a deficit...')  - was trying to condense the piece's wording, which is slightly odd -- to use "X or Y" to refer to the two ends of a probable continuum, as if there were no middle ground.  Anyway, in the scheme of things, these numbers aren't huge compared to the current scope of problems from the "downturn" in the economy.  (And I wonder what the numbers would be had they been compiled by the same consulting group that found the proposed OC airport such an economic windfall.)


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