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Monday December 5th

Chapel Hill and Carrboro planning departments recognize National Community Planning Month

Chapel Hill Town Hall stands on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. The Town of Chapel Hill announced on Aug.18 that they will be releasing $7.8 million to help fund affordable housing projects.
Buy Photos Chapel Hill Town Hall stands on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. The Town of Chapel Hill announced on Aug.18 that they will be releasing $7.8 million to help fund affordable housing projects.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are bringing attention to the planning projects they have worked on this past year to celebrate October as National Community Planning Month.

The month is recognized by the American Planning Association, which facilitates quality planning to benefit the community. The APA celebrates the role that planning plays in building communities each October.

Taking a comprehensive approach to planning and working to improve the well-being of all community members helps to ensure “safer, resilient, more equitable and more prosperous communities,” according to the APA's website.

Community planning is especially important in many public spheres, several members of the Chapel Hill Planning Department said. 

The planning department hopes to integrate the values of the month into its projects and ideas, Diedra McEntyre, a principal planner in the town's building and development services department, said.

“We’re taking the tenets of this month and incorporating them in the initiatives which we are doing within the town,” McEntyre said. 

Some of these tenets include equitable planning, creating ways to be more inclusive and promoting affordable housing, according to McEntyre.

“The idea is that it pushes communities to celebrate planning and to elevate the role that planners — whether they’re professional planners or members of the community — play in the community and making sure their work is acknowledged,” Tas Lagoo, a senior planner with the Town of Chapel Hill, said.

Lagoo said planning is central to much of what the town does, and Chapel Hill focuses on it year-round.

One major initiative the planning department is focusing on this month is providing "missing middle housing." This initiative focuses on housing options, including duplexes, townhomes and condos for middle-income populations.

"It's not about providing the housing, but about creating an environment where that housing can be built,” Lagoo said.

The town is also working on a project called Complete Community, which is an initiative that hopes to build a framework for future housing development in the town.

On Oct. 11, the town's Planning Department will be hosting a webinar discussing the Complete Community initiative. Registration is available on the town's website.

Josh Mayo, a transportation planner for the town, also said that text amendments to the current land use ordinance are also being reviewed this month, which is essential to planning and the role of planning in the town.

“Our land use management ordinance is basically where we have all our planning rules and regulations,” Mayo said. 

The department is cultivating community involvement by taking surveys and commissioning feedback on planning operations, McEntyre said.

Carrboro is also celebrating planning accomplishments this month, especially the recent Comprehensive Plan released in June, which Carrboro Planning Director Trish McGuire said is rooted in racial equity, transportation and climate action.

McGuire said the planning month is an opportunity to highlight things that are happening all the time in the community and celebrate past commitments.

She said community participation is a key element of good planning, and that Carrboro is thinking deeply about engaging with the community so that more people's voices can be heard.

McGuire said that she has found pop-up events to be very beneficial to outreach and engagement. Community members who participate have an important role in planning and integrating the key elements of the Comprehensive Plan into town events, she said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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