The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 2nd

Chapel Hill 2020 seeks community input for guide to town growth

When Chapel Hill officials adopted a comprehensive plan to guide town growth in 2000, they relied on professional opinions more than community voices.

This time around, they say they hope to change that.

Town officials met Tuesday to discuss how they will approach drafting Chapel Hill 2020, the plan that will structure the town’s growth ­— from economic development to land use — for the next 20 years.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, who was not at the meeting, has said the town hopes to involve 10,000 people from across the county in the creation of the new plan, which is slated to be circulated to the Town Council for approval in June 2012.

To involve more residents, the town will create surveys and hold online polls, said Mary Jane Nirdlinger, assistant director of the town planning department.

She said the town will also organize seven to eight resident committees that will work on issues like economic development.

The committees will meet between October 2011 and April 2012. Meetings will alternate between work sessions and group debate.

Rosemary Waldorf, co-chairwoman of Chapel Hill 2020 and a former Chapel Hill mayor, said the planning process will be open to the public.

“These meetings are open to anyone who lives, works or plays in Chapel Hill,” she said.

Officials said the new approach will also rely on the input and resources of the University and its officials. The University and town have both allocated $35,000 to the collaboration.

Nirdlinger said the town plans to involve faculty and students from both the UNC School of Government and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The town plans to offer paid and unpaid positions for University students, she said.

George Cianciolo, co-chairman of Chapel Hill 2020 and a professor at Duke University, said he hopes the plan will solve many of the problems that the town and University share.

“Chapel Hill is the University and vice versa,” he said.

Many local officials consider the current plan outdated and ineffective.

“We want to avoid what we had in the past, where everybody had their own plan and ran into each other,” Town Manager Roger Stancil said.

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