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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill 2020 plan progresses, but feedback is muddled

Officials hoped to gather many shades of opinion in shaping the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive plan, but some residents say their feedback system is still lacking.

Around 30 people attended an informal meeting Tuesday afternoon to review the latest draft of the 2020 vision and framework plan, which will guide the town’s growth over the next 10 years.

The plan is divided into sections including sustainability, UNC, downtown, innovation and entrepreneurship and connections and choices.

Rosemary Waldorf, co-chairwoman of Chapel Hill 2020, said the draft presented at the meeting is more extensive and visually appealing than the first draft.

“It has some very relevant illustrations and more data in this version,” Waldorf said. “We’re hoping that this one will be a semi-final draft.”

But many residents at the meeting­ said they have been frustrated with the lack of response from the town.

And others who posted feedback on the Chapel Hill 2020 blog, 2020 Buzz, said they were surprised when they didn’t hear back from the town.

“The blog is a black hole,” said Chapel Hill resident Will Raymond. “I’ve sent a number of emails but haven’t got any response.”

Other residents said they were confused about how to publicize their views — and many asked for clearer instructions to do so.

Outreach Coordinator Faith Thompson said commenting on the blog and commenting on the draft are two different things.

“We could have been more clear what happens to a comment depending on where you put it,” she said.

She said the blog is more of a platform for residents to discuss concerns amongst themselves, but residents can fill out comment cards during meetings that will go into the community input section in the draft plan.

Messages sent to will get a response, Thompson said.

Mary Jane Nirdlinger, assistant planning director for the town, said Chapel Hill has been trying to maximize community input in the plan since the process began in September.

“We’ve made use of the blog, social media,” she said. “We’re trying to build all those different networks so that any implementation steps that the theme groups are talking about could be shared.”

Nirdlinger also assured stakeholders that incorporating their views and suggestions is an ongoing effort, even after the plan is reviewed by the advisory boards on May 10.

The Chapel Hill Town Council will vote on the 2020 plan at their business meeting on June 25. If adopted, there will be more detailed plans to follow, Waldorf said.

But Nirdlinger said they will continue to work on the plan, even after the town council approves it.

“The door isn’t shut on the 25th,” she said. “We’ll keep moving forward and continue to integrate public input.”

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