How to make the Comprehensive Plan truly comprehensive

I've been encouraged to hear municipal staff and elected leaders in Chapel Hill talk about how broad, inclusive, and engaging they want the process of revising the Town's Comprehensive Plan to be. I've also seen some positive steps in this direction, but have also been frustrated about my inability to get information about what is going on with the process so far. Hopefully, this frustration will end when the public part of the process kicks off on September 27th (OP's birthday, coincidentally).

The town's "2020" web site lists ways that people can get involved including: Become a Stakeholder, Join a Working Group, Subscribe to our email list, Take a survey, Attend a Meeting, Tell someone about Chapel Hill 2020, and Tell us who's missing. This is a great start. I think this process is an opportunity to think more broadly about how to get residents more involved more effectively and creatively in our local government, and I bet we can think of some different formats and different venues for this to happen.

For example, I brainstormed last fall about the Downtown Redevelopment Framework process and came up with this list:

  • Offer presentations and lead discussions at neighborhood meetings, especially in downtown neighborhoods like Northside and East Franklin.
  • Host information sessions at local businesses downtown. Maybe even a happy hour.
  • Visit local blogs, post information, participate in the conversation.
  • Host a forum on the Town web site for discussion of the proposal (and downtown issues in general).
  • Hold focus groups around town.
  • Post better maps on the Town web site. Cheap option: use an overlay on Google Maps so people can really see and engage with the proposed changes.
  • Put large paper maps of the proposal on display at Town Hall and the Library.
  • Advertise on the buses, and distribute information at downtown bus stops.

I know the Town held focus group in the development of it's new affordable housing policy this year, but I haven't seen them try many other things on this list. What ideas do you have to help the Town hear from residents and help residents hear from the Town and each other?



These are all great ideas Ruby - keep them coming.  More information will be forthcoming shortly.  Getting things rolling in the middle of summer isn't the easiest thing because of vacations, etc.  But over 350 invitations to participate were sent out by the Mayor recently to folks whose names were provided or who had already indicated an interest.But people don't need a written invitation.  Everyone is invited and invitations will soon be appearing in our local media and on the Town website encoraging folks to come.  It would help, of course, if people let us know they are coming so that we can insure the venue can handle the number.  We are also trying to get a preliminary indication of whose coming in order to identify groups that are either missing or poorly represented.  If we know this ahead of time we can work hard to try to correct that lack of or underrepresentation before kickoff.There will be bus service out to the East Chapel Hill High School site but service ends at 5:45.  So the Town's website and future announcements will give a number to call and return transportation will be provided for anyone who needs it. More to come soon!

Has a clear vision for the town as a whole been developed to guide this plan? It seems to me that it will be difficult to develop a comprehensive plan without a vision statement as to where we want the process to take us. A consultant group reported that our current plan is at odds with where we want to go - but I don't remember a concensus of where that is...please help! 

Suzanne,This process is designed to be both a visioning AND planning process. The idea is for the citizens/stakeholders of Chapel Hill to come together at the beginning of the process to create a Vision of where they want Chapel Hill to be in the next 10 years.  And that Vision will include more than what we want the Town to 'look' like (e.g., density, building heights, open spaces) - it will include what kinds of services we want, how often we want them, how we deal with social services, etc.  It is meant to result in a Vision of what we ideally want in our Town of Chapel Hill in 2020 - but it will also be a Vision based on the reality of what we can sustain or afford.   Only then can we begin to create a plan that will provide what will be needed to accomplish that Vision in terms of land use, in terms of services provided, in terms of how we fund these things.  A plan that will include benchmarks so that both the citizens/stakeholders as well as our Town staff and elected officials can look at the plan each year and determine whether we are meeting our objectives and in the timeframe that was laid out.Hope this brief summary helps.

The visioning and planning process described sounds like a solid idea, if only approvals were not continuing during this year of deliberations.  (Disclaimer: I am not calling for a moratorium, though it would make sense.)So many large developments (Obey Creek, the Edge, Charterwood, University Square) may be voted on in 2012 and they may well create the defacto vision before the new CP is ever approved.  This concern does not even consider the large developments that have been approved (Bridgepoint, Hillmont, Residences at Grove Park, and, of course, Carolina North), but whose effects, good or bad, have not yet been experienced or calculated.  Del Snow

I left out 140 West which will hopefully fare better than Greenbridge.  The area that may be end up being well served by this process is UMall and Rams Plaza. Del Snow


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.