Decision by Ouija

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  1. Nancy, the problem with the rapid and loosely thrown together CH2020 process is no ones voice will be heard clearly.

    The other night Pat Evans asked a very good question: Why hadn’t the input of the Friends of Downtown, which had been submitted several times in several ways, been integrated into the CH2020 goals discussion? John Morris had a similar question, referring back to his Dec. 2011 notes to issues which had been discussed and apparently agreed upon which were also missing. The last meeting I attended, we were asked to work from materials and notes which were 2 meetings out of sync.

    The map exercise, which a lot of us mentioned on Monday, didn’t fit – by a huge margin – any tried and true guidelines for holding such an event. As confused instructions were barked out from the front of the meeting room, folks rushed to draw out a few ideas on maps lacking any indication of zoning, zoning district, existing conditions and constraints. The choices proffered were literally designed to be incomparable and both the co-chairs of the CH2020 process and the main staff organizer said that these maps were mistaken for site plans – which they did look like – instead of suggested land-use opportunities.

    In short, the process has been so “shoot from the hip”, so badly lagging in capturing citizen comment and integrating it into draft proposals, that the credibility of the end product is zip.

    The Council Chambers were filled with many of the folks who have tried to attend the CH2020 process enough to contribute. Many of the several dozen folks gathered in the Chamber, the 16 offering comment to the Council and the 50+ signees of the letter offering specific process improvements have been involved in numerous Town advisory, volunteer and planning processes for many years.

    The talent assembled was pretty incredible. Even more striking was given the diversity of outcomes these folks have lobbied for within the CH2020 process, there was unity on the call to get a business-like process with defined end-products now before moving forward with any recommendations.

  2. Del Snow

     /  April 2, 2012

    Actually Nancy, I have never said that “the Northern Area Task Force got derailed by paid consultants,” but that the MAPS that unsolicited consultants did (and which were rejected by the Task Force, per the statement in the Task Force report) were used as the essecnce of the report, which they were not. The Task Force report is separate from those maps and stands on its own merits. Unfortunately, though part of the Comprehensive Plan, it is routinely ignored. Case in point-the north side of Weaver Dairy Road, where height and density WERE recommended, hosts separate below grade one- story medical buildings. We will see what happens with the east side of the MLK/WDR corner where Walgreens owns a number of lots. The NATF recommended dense, ground level retail development.

  3. DOM

     /  April 2, 2012

    I, for one, would like to thank the 2020 leadership and all the others who have put so much work into this process on their own time. Constructive suggestions are great – but when it turns into needless carping and complaining, that’s hitting below the belt, imo.

  4. Nancy Oates

     /  April 2, 2012

    DOM, the leaders have donated a tremendous amount of time and expertise, and that’s one of the reasons I want the process to result in a document that can be legitimately useful to the town, without leaving residents who have devoted significant time to the process feeling it was a waste of time. Good communication will help. If ideas are being left out, the leaders need to explain why. Not every idea is a good idea, and if leaders see why some idea would have negative unintended consequences, they could explain that, so the person making the suggestion understands why it didn’t make the final cut.

  5. DOM

     /  April 2, 2012

    Great, Nancy. I agree wholeheartedly.

  6. Fred Black

     /  April 2, 2012

    Will, as usual paints with his broad and very critical brush and he has since day one of CH2020. I don’t know who he thinks is leading the process, as he keeps saying it isn’t citizen led and he claims that we have secret meetings; just not the case. I have not been in the same rooms he has but my experience is 180 from his. He will discount this by saying I’m “too invested.”

    Examples from his “broad swipes with his brush of negativity:
    (1) “rapid and loosely thrown together CH2020 process is no ones voice will be heard clearly.”
    Just not my experience.

    (2) Ref. the Friends of the Downtown, all of the various group inputs are in one doc, incl Habitat, the Chamber, and various other groups/communities that submitted input.

    (3) “the process has been so “shoot from the hip”, so badly lagging in capturing citizen comment and integrating it into draft proposals, that the credibility of the end product is zip.”

    My group reflects input from over 100 participants, and we captured it just fine.

    Nothing is going to satisfy “Critic in Chief Will Raymond.” Thus I am beyond being able to discuss his many other broad complaints. Others have made their reccomendations/complaints known and the leader team has incorporated them. Some people understand that “how” they do things is important. And for the citizen volunteers who have been working on this since August, there is no way the Town could afford to pay for their gifts of service. This process is moving forward and it’s too bad Will did not choose to be a positive force in it. Thankfully, so many others did choose to do so and seem to understand that we were all breaking new and unfamiliar ground every step of the way. We also recognize that there are plenty of agendas out there and I think all have had a fair hearing.

    But let’s be very clear — what gets submitted — a package of community goals and objectives by June — is a feeder document to the Chapel Hill Town Council to do with as they desire. The Comprehensive Plan and the Land Use Management Ordinance comes from them. Hopefully, citizen input will help guide their decisions and people will have other opportunities to air their support, opposition and everything else.

  7. DOM

     /  April 2, 2012

    Thanks for calling out these cockeyed accusations, Fred. Mr. Raymond doe NOT speak for the majority of 2020 stakeholders. Your point-by-point comments are exactly what we need more of in this process.

  8. Fred, as part of the group leading CH2020, you do have an investment in promoting a positive view. You’ve taken any criticism, but especially mine, of the haphazard process as a personal slight. It isn’t. It’s simply an honest opinion offered in an attempt to corral a process which, at least at this point, is destined to fail to produce a workable, community-led Comprehensive Plan or planning framework.

    In response to your points:

    1) Co-chairs and staff lead admitted the mapping exercise was flawed – maps were confusing, not enough time was taken to plan the exercise or implement.

    1) From day one the end-product of the exercise has been undefined. Even now the DRAFT is all over the map – mixing a wide range of elements.

    1) Both co-chairs have acknowledged (George C.) here that what process exists has been put together on the fly.

    1) Materials are not kept up-to-date. Questions are frequently not answered. Exercises are planned outside of a community process.

    1) The discussions surrounding the creation of the 15-501 sub-group are undocumented (or, at least the Town hasn’t been able to produce any notes, emails, etc.) – with the Town unable to list who – specifically – called for its creation.

    2) Pat Evans asked several times through several meetings where her group’s notes were. They certainly weren’t provided in the last set of materials we used – materials missing key input going back 4 months.

    I can easily be satisfied by a business-like approach which both honors the great community input already offered and justifies all the time and expense put into it.

    The CH2020 process is a mess whether I say it or not. The proof will be in the poorly crafted end-product produced for June.

    As far as that end-product, it was supposed to be a land use document – a new Comprehensive Plan.

    There are many examples of successful efforts from throughout the US, I suggest you read a few to see what we should end up with rather than spinning your wheels attacking the messenger.

  9. DOM, I don’t know who you are so a few simple questions: How many of the CH2020 events have you attended? What group have you focused on? Were you at the mapping exercise?

  10. Fred Black

     /  April 2, 2012

    Where do you get these assertions Will: ” You’ve taken any criticism, but especially mine, of the haphazard process as a personal slight.” you have never even been in my group so where does this come from?

    You are beyond criticism. One team member was so concerned the night you were in Rosemary Waldorf’s face that he was about to call for assistance.

    There has been plenty of helpful criticism but none from you.

  11. Fred, when you continue to say things like “Nothing is going to satisfy “Critic in Chief Will Raymond.”” it’s clear you feel personally hurt by my criticism.

    You have no idea of what criteria I’m using to judge the success of this process as you’ve never taken the time or effort as a member of the Leadership group to sit down and discuss it with me.

    Who was that team member? I asked Rosemary some tough questions but I was also polite about it. That’s a pretty substantial accusation to make in a public forum.

    When CH2020 has succeeded I’ve been quick to praise. I think some of the “teach-ins” have been very good.

    You like to accuse me of using a broad brush Fred. Maybe you should review what you’ve written and measure your words against mine.

  12. Fred Black

     /  April 2, 2012

    Will, you are not in the population that can hurt my feelings. You don’t get it, won’t get it and thus going back and forth with you is not productive. You thought you were polite? Understand others don’t see you as you do.

    Have a good night.

  13. Fred Black

     /  April 2, 2012

    Not an accusation Will, a statement of fact. The person was concerned by what he observed. Don’t think you could see what he saw, but that’s the point isn’t it.