This morning, the Chapel Hill Planning Department announced that it has signed a contract with NASA to begin land use planning for the moon.

We used DALL E to hypothesize what community planning might look like for this effort.

“We choose to plan for the moon,” Mayor Jess Anderson said, echoing the words of President John F. Kennedy, who in 1961 announced plans to send people to the moon by the end of the decade. “We choose to plan for the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept.”

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Chapel Hill

Town manager Chris Blue noted that Chapel Hill has been on the federal government’s radar for moon planning before.

“In the 1960s, Neil Amstrong spent countless hours in Chapel Hill training for his moon landing at the Morehead Planetarium,” said Blue. “We believe our planning department is uniquely suited to begin the process of land use planning on the moon.”

For the new initiative, which town staff is calling LLUNAR (Lunar Land Use maNAgement oRdinance), two planning staff members will be sent to Houston for astronaut training and to learn about best practices for zoning.

Already, the town is considering various factors in its lunar planning. Will there be setbacks on the moon and will they change as the Moon rotates? How much density will be allowed before they affect Earth’s tides? Will the Mare Serenitatis get a neighborhood conservation overlay district (NCOD) or will it turn into the Mare Crisium?

Houston, we have a problem

Some in Chapel Hill are not happy with the town’s announcement. This morning, someone reserved a domain name for a new group called “Friends of the Moon,” which claims that the waxing gibbous will become a waning gibbous if nothing is done.

They have also asked that the landing sites of earlier lunar flights be considered for inclusion in a Lunar Historic District, which aims to protect not just the sites themselves, but also neighboring planets to ensure new moon development is “architecturally compatible” with the rest of the solar system.

The Apollo program ran from 1961 to 1972, with the first crewed flight in 1968. Community engagement for Chapel Hill’s moon planning is expected to take twice as long, and cost twice as much.

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