Target:
Chapel Hill Town Council 2012
Region:
United States of America
Website:
estesneighbors.wordpress.com

As residents of the Central MLK-Estes Focus Area, we have made a long-term investment not only in our own homes but also in our communities and in the future of Chapel Hill.

The planned development of Carolina North provides us with a valuable opportunity to develop a design for our focus area that meets the high standards that the University and the town have established for this new gateway to Chapel Hill, and to further enhance Chapel Hill's reputation for high quality of life.

From this perspective, we wish to offer our strong support for the following principles:


To the Mayor and Members of the Town Council:

As residents of the Central MLK-Estes Focus Area, we have made a long-term investment not only in our own homes but also in our communities and in the future of Chapel Hill. The planned development of Carolina North provides us with a valuable opportunity to develop a design for our focus area that meets the high standards that the University and the town have established for this new gateway to Chapel Hill, and to further enhance Chapel Hill's reputation for high quality of life. From this perspective, we wish to offer our strong support for the following principles:

1. We believe that the Central MLK-Estes Focus Area, and the town of Chapel Hill as a whole, will benefit from quality growth. We support growth that respects and supports the character of the surrounding area and is based on thoughtful analysis of the community's needs, the cost-effectiveness of development, and impacts on transportation and natural environment. Quality growth can be achieved only when it is based on a long-term vision for the future of our town and communities. Poorly thought out development projects do not contribute to the realization of quality growth and may in fact impede the pursuit of quality growth; we therefore encourage the Town and its citizens to pursue a long-term vision instead.

2. We support the community-driven planning process, and we believe strongly that such a process requires (1)fair representation of residents on the decision-making body that will oversee it (i.e., the Steering Committee) and (2) that decisions have buy-in across the major constituents represented on the Steering Committee. Given that there are 18 neighborhoods in the impact area whose residents provide roughly $5 million in property tax revenues annually, we believe that the planning process offers the town a valuable opportunity to establish a model of good-faith communication and cooperation that can be employed in planning discussions across the town for years to come. Adequate representation of those who live in a future focus area, and adequate protection of their voice in final decisions, is the best way to ensure sufficient buy-in from all affected constituencies and enhance the credibility, legitimacy and successful implementation of any product of the planning process.

3. We believe the goal of the planning process is not simply to re-zone certain properties, but to develop a vision for the larger Central MLK-Estes area for the next several decades. We thus believe the planning process requires a sufficient amount of time to generate a credible product that meets the criteria for quality growth and community buy-in. We agree that extended uncertainty is in no one's best interest. But establishing arbitrarily short deadlines that are inconsistent with prior successful processes would place unreasonable burdens on community members who want to be part of a successful planning process without wasting valuable town staff time.

4. Similarly, we believe that the geographical area to be encompassed by the planning process must reflect the long-term considerations we have outlined above. The basic plan should not address only the extended intersection of Estes and MLK; it must also focus on the major transit corridors in our area, including Homestead Road. Limiting the planning area to the properties around the Estes-MLK intersection would result in a short-term rezoning exercise, not a long-term plan for the focus area. To repeat, any long-term plan has to address the future of the entire length of the corridors, even if there is no particular desire to extend commercial growth throughout the corridors.

We are sincerely committed to achieving a successful outcome for the planning process. We will be paying careful attention to this process as it unfolds, and look forward to working with the Town Council, town staff, and other stakeholders to build an appealing, viable future for our town of Chapel Hill.

Signed by these citizens of Chapel Hill,

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