Chapel Hill needs a new plan for its future growth — and the University plans to play a major role in creating one, officials said.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and the Chapel Hill Town Council are working with residents to create a new comprehensive plan to guide the town’s development over the next 20 years, an effort Chancellor Holden Thorp said UNC will support.
“We want this to be a place where creative, ambitious, driven, highly educated people want to come,” Thorp said.
The current plan was adopted in 2000, and town officials say it is outdated and must be updated.
A recent town-commissioned review of the land use ordinance used to implement the plan found that the regulations don’t fit with an urban, sustainable vision.
Thorp said the new plan will address issues that directly affect students, such as housing and transportation.
“The chancellor about a year ago made it clear that the relationship between the campus and the town was a priority of his,” said William Lambe, a professor in the School of Government and one of the University’s three liaisons for the planning process.
The result, Lambe said, was the creation of a community-campus partnership. The University and town have each dedicated $35,000 to the collaboration.
The council has chosen Sept. 27 for its first planning meeting and wants to have a new comprehensive plan in place by June 2012.
Kleinschmidt said the government aims to involve 10,000 people in the process — just less than one fifth of the town’s population.
Town Manager Roger Stancil said University faculty and staff will provide expertise to help achieve that goal.
For example, the town and University wish to pay students from the School of Journalism to report on planning-related events and developments, Lamb said.
The goal is to publicize the plan’s content while keeping the process transparent, Stancil said.
Lamb said the School of Information and Library Science will also help to organize and document information gathered as part of the collaboration.
Andrew Guinn, a graduate student in the government school, will be paid to provide technical expertise to the town, including using social media to engage residents.
Stancil said the town will also hold small and large public meetings at various times throughout the day to involve as many residents as possible.
“The goal is to update our vision for our community to align with our new reality,” Kleinschmidt said.
“We need the community to feel confident in the direction that we are moving and growing.”
Town Council candidate Jason Baker agreed.
“The comprehensive plan is really a guiding document used to think about the framework of our values,” he said.
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An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the current plan between the town and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to report the comprehensive plan process. The story has been updated to reflect the clarification.
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