Imagine Cary brings input but little focus

aspecht@newsobserver.comFebruary 7, 2014 

— Some residents want Cary to clarify its vision for redevelopment, housing, transportation and maintaining the town’s fiscal health.

But town leaders say they aren’t yet ready to revise a set of statements drafted as part of the Imagine Cary planning effort after months of public input from nearly 4,000 people.

Imagine Cary, which includes the resident-led Committee for the Future, could shape the town for decades to come.

Town planners and consultants updated the Town Council on the project during a meeting on Thursday.

Leigh Anne King, a consultant with Clarion Associates in Chapel Hill, said Imagine Cary received 400 responses after publishing a drafted set of vision statements online for public comment.

Residents were asked to rate the statements on a scale of one to nine, with nine meaning they fully support the statement.

Average statement support ranged from 6.2 to 8.1, King said.

The statements received mostly positive feedback, though the survey isn’t considered to be statistically valid.

Adults under 34 years old, as well as Asians, blacks and Hispanics were under-represented, King said.

“What we’re suggesting tonight is that we take these vision and value statements as generally supported and hold them off to the side for the moment … until we have more information,” King told the council.

The feedback didn’t offer a clear picture of how residents want to shape the town.

Regarding housing, some said they want Cary to focus on luring senior housing. Some said Cary should welcome housing that attracts young adults. Others said they mainly want to see single-family homes.

Public opinion on development was just as varied, King said. Some said Cary should keep what little open space it has along the edges of town, while others said Cary should let the market determine the land’s fate.

The Committee on the Future will likely review the statements at its Feb. 18 meeting.

Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said Thursday’s update was important because she wants those involved with Imagine Cary to know that she won’t support an overarching vision plan that contradicts old land-use plans.

She mentioned a plan the town crafted for western Cary years ago.

“In the southwest, we decided we’d have low density and in the northwest we’d have more density,” she said. “There is no way on earth I’m going to support sacrificing the low density in that area.”

Planning Director Jeff Ulma said he hopes Imagine Cary would craft the plan so that it wouldn’t necessarily nullify old policies.

King said she would make sure the council will be able to consider several options as to the vision statements.

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

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