Imagine Cary initiative wants public feedback

aspecht@newsobserver.comNovember 11, 2013 

  • Imagine Cary’s drafted vision statement

    “The Town of Cary will continue to be the model of a highly-regarded and well-managed suburban community. The interests of residents and businesses will be at the forefront of policies and public investment that foster sustained prosperity.

    Since the community is mostly developed, the existing suburban pattern of high quality residential, office, and shopping areas will remain dominant. In strategic and appropriate locations, emerging new development patterns – greater intensity in a walkable, mixed-use form – will be encouraged to provide existing and future residents additional choices for living, connecting, working, playing, and shopping.

    The attractive physical setting – both natural and man-made – strengthens community pride and encourages private investment. This is also true with the consistent delivery of high-quality community infrastructure, services and facilities.

    The community also continues to prosper through attention to quality and a commitment to a sense of community, culture, and history, revealing the authentic and special Cary.”

  • Have your say

    Go to www.imaginecary.org to read and weigh in on the town’s drafted vision statement.

— This town’s community plan is back in the public’s court.

As part of the Imagine Cary planning effort that could shape the town’s character for decades to come, the public is invited to provide feedback until Nov. 22.

So far, the initiative has some proposed “value statements” about the town. They are the culmination of a year of gathering public comment and holding meetings to discuss the town’s priorities, especially when it comes to development and redevelopment.

They also address Cary’s growth-management philosophy and other topics such as the environment and transportation.

Once finalized, the statements “will guide our actions and services,” said Meredith Chandler, a senior planner with Cary. “It’s the big picture, it’s what we’re about.”

The statements were formed after considering nearly 4,000 ideas offered by about 1,200 people, Chandler said. Many of those ideas came after the town’s Summit on the Future last spring, which featured a keynote speaker who touted “new-urbanism.”

The speech prompted some residents to defend Cary’s suburban atmosphere.

“Most people had comments like, ‘We love Cary, it’s suburban. Let’s keep it that way,’” Chandler said.

The proposed vision statement in the Imagine Cary plan reflects that notion: “Cary will continued to be the model of a highly-regarded and well-managed suburban community.”

But the proposal also opens the door to more urban development. It says: “In strategic and appropriate locations, emerging new development patterns – greater intensity in a walkable, mixed-use form – will be encouraged.”

Chris Leinberger, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, was the keynote speaker at the summit. After reading Imagine Cary’s drafted statements, Leinberger said he thinks the statements meet the community’s goals.

The statements, he said, aim to preserve Cary’s suburban feel while also allowing for the remaining 10 percent of town that’s not built-out to be developed in a more walkable fashion.

“This provides the town options without changing one iota of Cary’s existing character,” he said. “Walkable urban is an option you need to build as part of your portfolio.”

A mixed-use project is nearing completion at the corner of Davis Drive and High House Road. And last month, the town had a public hearing on a developer’s proposed mixed-use project on Morrisville Parkway.

Such development changes leave some residents, like Hank Saye, to consider Cary’s actions more than its words.

“How can the citizens really believe in Imagine Cary when we are continuously accosted by requests for high-density residential rezoning?” Saye said at the hearing.

That’s his opinion, and now the town wants to hear from others. The public can weigh in at www.imaginecary.org.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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