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Projects finalized in Town Council's last meeting

The first half of the final Chapel Hill Town Council meeting Monday brought heavily debated projects to a close.

The council unanimously approved the town’s budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan and amendments to the Land Use Ordinance for the Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods.

New budget for 2012-13 approved

The council’s approval of the budget came with only one major change: a previously-proposed half-cent sales tax increase to cover rising transit costs will instead be covered by a transfer from the general fund.

Town Manager Roger Stancil said it should be recognized that after four years in a recession, the council has not raised taxes or reduced the services they provide.

“I think you should be proud that the town of Chapel Hill has made it through that recession without raising the tax rate in town,” Stancil said.

The approved budget also includes a 3 percent increase in town employee salaries.

Chapel Hill 2020 final draft approved

By far, the most heavily discussed topic Monday was the final draft of the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan. For two hours, residents and council members voiced their opinions on the plan.

Most residents said they were generally happy with the final draft of the plan, but wanted some parts of it clarified or made more specific.

Council members stressed the idea that the plan is a “living document” and that changes could be made to it when necessary.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said that flexibility is what makes the plan good.

“We have an idea of where we want to go, but we recognize that the specific direction is actually going to come when we insert the citizen input,” he said. “Which is exactly the way the process has worked up to this point.”

Mary Jane Nirdlinger, assistant planning director for the town, said town staff would work out how to implement the comprehensive plan over the next two months. “Our first step is really to put down the details of what we need to do,” she said.

Nirdlinger said they will return with a report to the council at their next meeting Sept. 5.

The 2020 Buzz blog and Twitter will also continue to be updated in order to keep the public informed on the process, she said.

Northside/Pine Knolls plan amended

The Land Use Management ordinance was amended to restrict front-yard parking for triplexes in Northside and Pine Knolls and to require the Planning Board to approve any exceptions to the restrictions.

“Kind of a anticlimactic end to such an extraordinary process,” Kleinschmidt said.

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