During their April 29, 2013 work session, Chapel Hill Town Council continued to discuss and refine a process plan and schedule for Obey Creek and S15-501.
The process consists of two phases – an Exploratory phase during which a team of consultants will facilitate a planning process and, if the resulting project plan is deemed appropriate for a Development Agreement, a Negotiation and Implementation phase will follow.
Focus during the council work session was on a fleshed out plan for the Exploratory Phase which is the product of a collaborative effort between town staff, East West Partners and two community members.
The new plan calls for a six to nine month public engagement process that includes many opportunities for public engagement. However, the plan provides no formalized mechanism for citizen inclusion in decision-making or process leadership.
For instance, important topic discussions (traffic, environment, placemaking….) are to be held as weekly open meetings between developer and staff with biweekly report-out/feedback sessions for the community. Furthermore, all recommendations are to be crafted by the Technical Consulting team.
Given recent success at Glen Lennox and progress being made at Central West, the two frequent examples for this process, community members asked that council include a “steering committee” style mechanism for Obey Creek/S15-501 which would ensure community inclusion in important meetings and decision-making.
During the course of their discussion, council endorsed using the Central West steering committee and its “rules of engagement” as a model for Obey Creek/S15-501 and have asked staff to come back with a proposal at an upcoming meeting.
In addition, council has been encouraged to outline the decision-making criteria to be used when deciding whether to pursue a Development Agreement for this or any other project. Legally, the only consideration would be that the development must cover 25 acres or more.
What do you think should be the important factors in choosing a Development Agreement for a project?