Tonight (Tuesday, May 10), the Carrboro Town Council is meeting to discuss its new comprehensive plan, titled Carrboro Connects (The last one was called Carrboro 2020, but appears to not meet the state’s definition of a “comprehensive plan”). While Chapel Hill has put together many comprehensive plans in the past, this is a first for Carrboro. Put together by Teska Associates, an Illinois-based firm, along with a handful of subcontractors, the 231-page adoption draft will shape the future of Carrboro for the next 20 years. (For those who have read previous drafts, here’s what’s new). On Monday Patrick McDonough, published a thorough review of the draft.

Tonight, the Council has the opportunity to approve the draft, or send it back for further revisions.

8:47: Damon Seils notes that Carrboro won a state award for citizen participation in the Carrboro Connects plan. (And an award for “doing the most with the least amount of resources”).

8:51: Trish McGuire opens with an overview of the plan, including this “very Carrboro” slide.

8:58: That said, this plan, at 231 pages, is excessively long. (And, at several times, frustratingly vague.)

9:00: Because Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell is absent tonight, Mayor Damon Seils said that the town is not going to adopt the plan tonight. The state-imposed deadline for adoption is July 1, 2022. Under state law passed two years ago, towns that want to zone land are required to have comprehensive plans.

9:13: Carrboro community member Diana Newton asks why the flood resilience framework and stormwater condition assessment are not included. She observes that the measures listed in the report are generic and loose, making it difficult for the town to see progress. Proposes that the town not adopt the plan.

9:22: Carrboro community member Catherine Fray observes that the Carrboro status quo exerts a strong hold over this plan. They argue that language continues to be watered down. The council should not shy away from addressing political controversies. They note that the community was encouraged not to discuss issues that divide that town, like greenways and parking. Notes that the report loses strong language when it gets to tough issues. “If Raleigh can remove parking minimums, Carrboro can do it.”

9:32: Damon Seils notes that the council might return to the document on June 7.  Council member Barbara Foushee asks about timeframe for revisions.
9:35: Danny Nowell asks about parking. He wants to eliminate parking minimums by right in certain zones. Sammy Slade wants to make the minimums the maximums.

9:40: Nowell asks “Can we be as aggressive as Mebane?,” when it comes to eliminating parking minimums.

9:43: Carrboro’s Planning Director Trish McGuire argues against banning parking minimums. Seils reminds McGuire that the Council has already recommended eliminating parking minimums, and suggests that the council consider capping the number parking spaces outside the transit corridors.

9:49: Sammy observes that the goal is access to downtown, not parking per se.

9:52: Seils notes that the town is “one yard from the goal line,” asking for the council to not make too many demands of town staff or the consultants.

9:55: Nowell argues that the town should explore permitting duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes on lots currently reserved only for unattached homes.

10:04: The town’s consultant suggests that the town should use the promise of reducing parking requirements as a way to incentivize affordable housing. This is a terrible idea.

10:12: There’s a long discussion of how and whether to allow for denser housing in neighborhoods that only permit unattached homes.

10:21: Seils thanks the consultant for their participation in the discussion. Notes that the Council will come back on June 7 for adoption. And with that, we end our live blog. Thanks for reading!

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Martin Johnson lives in Chapel Hill. He teaches film studies courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a member of NEXT Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel...

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