Growth & Development

And the magic number is... 420

At the Carrboro board meeting tonight, there was a presentation and public comment period concerning the new "Carrboro Senior High School". One of the striking things about the initial plan is that, despite adhering to environmentally sound building design principles, the overall layout of the school still encourages the same kind of sprawl as usual. There was a disconnect between the idea of "green building" and "sustainable" development practices. For instance, the school will be extremely energy efficient and will even catch rainwater to flush toilets, but there will be 420 parking spaces and the current layout of the road system puts the nearest bus stop to the school much further away than most of the parking spaces. In a world where many of our life lessons are learned in high school, it seems like the school board would be interested in designing a school that encouraged students to use public transit or bike to school and that left a small footprint on the landscape.

FLASH: Durham to Get Bigger

Durham County is currently vetting its newest comprehensive plan, which is to guide city/county development decisions through 2030. If you don't think this is an Orange County story, take a look at their plans for the borderlands between the county line and I-40, particularly that chunk of space bordered by 54, 40, Old Chapel Hill Road, and the county line: a couple square miles of medium to high density housing where currently there are woods bordering one of the waterfowl impoundments, more commercial development along 54, and much much more!

And remember, the farm that abuts Meadowmont is in Durham County.


Compare and Contrast

Today the Chapel Hill Herald reports that the Town Commitee on Lots 2 and 5 (or whatever awkward name it has) will be meeting to continue the ongoing conversation about how to best utilize these two parking lots in prime locations downtown.

I participated in a "charrette" several years ago that I thought came up with some good initial thoughts about how this land could be used creatively to meet the community's social needs as well as provide other services like a transportation hub, or some truly mixed-use buildings. After going through this and also sitting on the Downtown Small Area Plan Committee, I guess I OD'ed on ideas for downtown. Can someone tell me concisely what is really going to happen there? And who is going to pay for it?

In the same issue, the Herald also tells us that:

Scott Kovens and Eric Chupp of Capkov Ventures have their sights on about 150 acres of land right across the road from Southern Village, on the northeastern side of U.S. 15-501...

Welcome to Sprawlville

Now I know we have some problems, but I never would have guessed that the Triangle would rank #3 on the national urban sprawl index! The report, by Smart Growth America, says...

This study shows that sprawl is a real, measurable phenomenon with real implications for peoples’ everyday lives. Regions wishing to improve their quality of life should consider taking steps to reduce sprawl and promote smarter growth. Based on this research, Smart Growth America offers six policy recommendations:

1) Reinvest in Neglected Communities and Provide More Housing Opportunities

2) Rehabilitate Abandoned Properties

3) Encourage New Development or Redevelopment in Already Built Up Areas

4) Create and Nurture Thriving, Mixed-Use Centers of Activity

5) Support Growth Management Strategies

6) Craft Transportation Policies that Complement Smarter Growth

Planning Bored

I was asked to share this gem from last's night's Planning Board meeting with you. Phil Szostak is an architect who is developing an addition for Olin T. Binkley Baptist Church. Binkley is a leading progressive institution in this community and is also very prominently located next to University Mall on The Bypass. So I found it very amusing that Phil kept claiming "we're just a little church." If that's so, then UNC is a community college, OK?



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