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Mark Bonner Mark Bonner from Mebane wrote on March 8, 2017 at 11:31 am:
The goal of establishing "affordable housing" is a noble one but misguided at best and will begin a slippery slope of complaints and escalating costs that the City should not want to invest in . We just moved from Durham after living there for 59 years. Not once has Durham ever invested in "affordable housing' without losing money and having to redo a particular project over and over. Now Durham is considering an interest free loan to those "affordable housing" homeowners who are now complaining that they can't pay the increased property taxes, all this subsidized by the hard working people of Durham who do pay. Housing should be market based and if there is a need, and a reasonable economic return then one of the many tract builders will build it. If there is not, then they won't and the City shouldn't either.
Leonora Reilly Leonora Reilly from Mebane wrote on March 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm:
It is very disappointing that the impact of the Hwy 119 Bypass at I85/40, Holmes Rd is completely missing. This bypass will cut off the rapidly growing southern area of Mebane from downtown & make it more difficult for people living in this area. Also, no there are no "improvements" planned for this area similar to those for all other areas of Mebane. We pay city taxes but get very little benefits. It's unfortunate that Mebane treats this area as a gold mine for industrial growth but refuses to support an equal quality of life for residents.
Glenda Linens Glenda Linens from Burlington wrote on December 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm:
Glad to see information about greenways, bike lanes, and sidewalks. Would love to see even more health considerations in the plan. Here is a great tool that is available if you need it. http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/HealthConsiderations/Texts/North_Carolina_Guide_to_Incorporating_Health_Considerations.pdf
Jessica Simmons Jessica Simmons wrote on November 15, 2016 at 2:10 am:
For Goal 1.5: "Establish affordable housing goals that are encouraged and monitored": I personally do not believe it is the function of government to work to assure "affordable housing" in a given area. I believe that this should be a market driven matter. Individuals are not entitled to live wherever they want regardless of the cost of living when taken into consideration with their personal income, and furthermore, they are not entitled to live in new construction simply because they want to. During our last meeting, it was suggested that if local government didn't work to create "affordable housing" goals, that Mebane would become "like Chapel Hill... people can't afford to buy homes there". Looking at this situation in reverse, people who already have housing in higher priced markets, like Chapel Hill, enjoy appreciation on their investment, the single greatest intended benefit of home ownership, and there is certainly no shortage of people who continue to look to buy homes there. It is my personal expectation that people should look to purchase homes where they can afford to live, and that developers will respond to housing needs organically. Additionally, as housing values increase, tax revenue will simultaneously increase, without a need to raise existing tax rates.

For Goal 1.7: "Continue to support industrial development at existing industrial parks...", specifically in regards to transportation improvements, I would suggest that the city consider a specified "Truck Route". This is something seen in developed areas across the country. Restricting trucks to specific routes within city limits has benefits to both traffic control and road safety for both pedestrians and drivers.

Goal 2.3: "Develop more community facilities in partnership...": There is no need for a cooperative agreement to secure a wellness facility. This need presents an excellent business opportunity for a private individual/group to meet an expressed desire within the community, without the need for public funds/participation. As an example in town, Millennium Fitness is always well utilized, and does not rely on community funds. We need not look very far to notice all of the other fitness and wellness facilities that exist without the need for an infusion of public dollars. The same can be said in regards to a public pool, referenced as a line item in figure 9 under "Facility Development". Between a fitness center and a swimming pool, this represents more than 2 million dollars in public funds, in an arena that could easily be met by the private sector.

Goal 4.1: "City entrance corridors...": I'm not entirely sure why we would want or need to legislate signage. As a patron, I appreciate when I can easily see a business's name/sign from the road, particularly if I'm unfamiliar with where I'm going/where a business is located. I do like the idea of energy efficient streetlights, and think this a resource friendly goal that is relatively easy to achieve.

Goal 4.2, while nobel in its intent to want to utilize adjacent and street parking by converting minimum parking requirements to maximum parking requirements, lacks consideration for the elderly, disabled, and those with young children, who may not be able to find parking within a manageable distance to their destination, and who thus may elect to not shop at facilities that would have them walk 3 blocks to patronize a given facility. Especially with the increasing ease and popularity of online shopping, we should seek to make brick and mortar shopping easier/more accessible, and not create guidelines/polices which work toward the opposite.

Goal 5.5: "Providing better information to landowners and citizens on natural resource value of land": In regards to developing templates for use by landowners, this could be a good opportunity to point towards existing resources at the county extension offices, which offers both paid staff and master gardener volunteers in service to county residents which may assist with this goal.

6.1 "Document and share information related to land development that can be utilized across levels of government for better decision making": this is an excellent inclusion in the strategic plan, because goals should be streamlined across the various "players" involved in local governance.

Additional comments: Not all, or even the majority of citizens, are opposed to "Big Box" stores (responding to the considerations listed for the Cameron Lane area). Our city recently invested considerably into a massive distribution center for the largest "Big Box" chain store in the country. On that note, it seems a bit hypocritical for our city to then act as if the notion of chain stores is repulsive to the populace.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I turn to map 14: Growth Strategy Area, area VII, suggested use G3 mixed use: If I'm viewing this area correctly, this is the White Level area in the ETJ, directly adjacent to the Mill Creek community. If memory serves me, this largely African American section of town has repeatedly requested, and been denied, annexation, specifically due to their desire to access city water and sewer services which are available in Mill Creek itself. If the plan desires to make this area mixed use in the future, presumably this means that future development will be granted this same annexation which has been denied to existing residents. I have concerns for how this will be viewed in the eyes of the public, as I personally find it concerning. There have been numerous articles and scholarly papers drafted on this specific area in Mebane going back more than a decade, and I feel that we should be extremely cautious in proceeding with plans that would easily grant for incoming residents those same benefits which have been denied to our existing residents.
Brooke Massa Brooke Massa wrote on November 7, 2016 at 8:53 pm:
The current Open Space & Natural Resources Protection section has some elements outlined in the process, but it lacks detail. Consider identifying and describing the sensitive natural areas, priority habitats, and wildlife that occur in Mebane. Just as the NC Wildlife Action Plan lists and describes priority habitats, it also lists priority species. I have included that list at the back of this letter. The current draft of the plan does include information on a few of the rare species that occur in Mebane, including three rare mussels. I would encourage the town to provide information on why these species are important, such as their ability clean water; this will help justify their importance. The current draft also includes information on species that occurred historically in the NC Piedmont, consider eliminating this information as it is not clear how this is helpful for guiding land use decision-making into the future. Descriptions of the Natural Heritage Natural Areas that occur within Mebane’s boundaries could also be included in this section. The purpose of identifying and describing the natural resources that occur in Mebane is to help the public and decision-makers be informed of the resources that could be impacted. The inclusion of photos of these areas and species will also enhance understanding of these resources.

In addition to lacking information on priority species and habitats (besides the habitat information that I contributed), the current Open Space & Natural Resources Protection section does not include an explicit conservation vision for Mebane. For example, a conservation vision could include a statement to the effect that Mebane aims to ‘enhance, connect, and permanently protect Mebane’s priority natural resources to sustain fish and wildlife and natural areas for the benefit of the community.’ The current recreation and open space vision is not explicitly related to conservation. There may be reasons why this vision is more appropriate for Mebane, and it may do just as well as in protecting and connecting sensitive natural areas. However, there may be value in being more explicit about the desire of the community to keep priority natural areas protected and connected.

The section does set clear goals and strategies. The following recommendations are provided to enhance conservation outcomes of the goals and strategies:

Goal 5.2: Provide abundant open space and recreational opportunities (p. 62)

The strategy to ‘provide minimum open space requirements… ranging from 10 to 20%’ may be sufficient in meeting the goal of providing recreation opportunities, however, may not, over the long-term, balance natural resources protection and growth. Many communities are aiming for 40% natural area set-asides in new developments. Consider providing a density bonus for new developments that provide at least 40% connected natural area open space, especially if there are priority natural resources identified on the site. Connectivity of natural areas within and beyond the development is key for the long-term protection of natural resources and wildlife. Conservation subdivision standards with incentives are becoming an increasingly popular choice for developers that wish to provide natural area assets in their developments. Chatham County and Randolph County have good conservation subdivision standards that Mebane might consider implementing, see: http://www.chathamnc.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=11548 and http://www.co.randolph.nc.us/pz/downloads/UnifiedDevelopmentOrdinance.pdf (p. II-7).

Goal 5.3: Provide greenways, parks, and open space connectivity between different land uses and across major transportation corridors (p. 62)

Greenways provide an opportunity for providing alternative transportation paths, passive recreation opportunities, and for connecting natural areas to sustain wildlife populations. The current strategies listed in the draft plan do not address the importance of using greenways to provide connectivity between natural areas. In order to protect connectivity for wildlife, greenways should aim to be maintained in natural vegetation and at least 150’ wide.

Goal 5.5: Provide better information to landowners and citizens on the natural resource value of the land (p. 63)

The requirement of an inventory of flora and fauna on site plans for all development greater than 2 acres is a laudable goal. Some communities require that this be a part of the site plan process only for major subdivisions located in their conservation districts. To simplify the process, consider providing conservation data on Mebane’s online GIS mapper. PTRC has developed some good conservation datasets that can help developers and community members become more aware of conservation priorities.

The last key part of a successful conservation plan is to identify ways to implement and monitor the conservation strategies. Although, there is a section related to implementation clearly being developed (p. 65), the plan currently lacks ways to implement the conservation strategies. Some communities, such as Pinehurst, develop conservation advisory boards to be responsible for implementation; some, such as Raleigh, assign different strategies to different departments, such as Parks and Recreation and Planning. It is helpful to assign responsibility of implementation to some group, or to identify partners that can help the community implement its plan. Please consider that NCWRC can also be listed as a partner in relation to Mebane’s ‘Open Space and Natural Resource Protection.’ It is also helpful to provide some timeline of implementation. The City of Raleigh Comprehensive Plan provides a good example of a thorough implementation section: http://www.raleighnc.gov/content/extra/Books/PlanDev/2030CompPlan/#469

Deliverable 1 also requires that Mebane ‘provides language in the form of policy recommendations and strategies to protect and connect the habitats of sensitive species in priority habitats in the Haw River watershed and in other priority conservation areas of Mebane’s jurisdiction.’ The policies outlined as ‘goals’ do not address the protection and connection of priority upland habitats, although they do a good job at protecting stream and river habitats. The abovementioned recommendations could help Mebane fulfil this deliverable. Section 3 of the Green Growth Toolbox handbook (http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Conserving/documents/GGT/Manual/Green%20Growth%20Toolbox_Section%203.pdf) also provides detailed information on how to protect and connect priority habitats. This document is geared towards helping communities develop policies and practices to address specific habitat goals. Incorporation of these recommendations into the Open Space & Natural Resources Protection section will help Mebane develop a ‘detailed’ plan that reduces impacts to sensitive natural areas, priority habitats, and wildlife.

Deliverable 3 of the contract states that, “Natural resource and habitat conservation policies will be incorporated into other sections of the City of Mebane Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Comprehensive Transportation Plan, as appropriate.” This deliverable will help Mebane address natural resource protection goals in a comprehensive manner. I have identified the following sections as opportunities where deliverable 3 could be better addressed:

• The Vision statement provided for the ‘Open Space and Recreation’ section (p. 5)
o Consider removing the word ‘fingers’ from seventh bullet. The word ‘fingers’ connotes that the natural corridors will end. The purpose of protecting natural corridors is to provide passage for wildlife between large natural areas, such as found in a rural landscape. Corridors should not end in the same way fingers come to an end.
o Consider removing the last bullet: ‘City creeks should be a stronger component of future land development.’ For the protection of water quality and habitat for aquatic species, city creeks should be protected from land development. The intent of this bullet is not clear.

• Growth Strategy Area Definitions (p. 54)
o Conservation Areas & Corridors: It is great that this element was explicitly addressed in the Growth Strategy. Consider changing ‘cluster’ to ‘conservation’ residential development. Some communities have noted that using the word ‘cluster’ worries adjacent landowners as they interpret it to mean traffic congestion and high density development, when in reality the amount of people living in the development is not significantly different in a cluster design than it would be in a conventionally designed development. The use of the word ‘conservation’ may better communicate the intent of these types of developments.

• Land Development Plan Recommendations
o Growth Management (p. 58)
 Although in the preceding chapter there was a growth strategy area directly related to natural resource conservation, this section does not create any recommendations directly related to the protection of natural resources. Consider adding a goal to: Enhance, connect, and permanently protect Mebane’s priority natural resources to sustain fish and wildlife and natural areas for the benefit of the community.

If there are opportunities to include transportation goals into the plan, this is also a very important place to address natural resources and wildlife habitat protection goals. Roads are very important sources of habitat fragmentation, as they bisect intact ecosystems, and drive development along their corridors. Since the draft is not complete, there is a lot of opportunity to consider the incorporation of natural resource protection policies and strategies into these sections.

Lastly, the cover page of the plan could show pictures of a natural area, signifying that the protection of natural resources is an important component of the plan, on par with the different types of developed land uses shown on the cover.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Comprehensive Land Development Plan for the City of Mebane. The NCWRC supports the City of Mebane in its efforts to plan for sustainable growth patterns that protect our natural areas for our declining wildlife species. We’re happy to be of assistance to Mebane in meeting its natural resource protection goals.
Greg Payne Greg Payne wrote on November 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm:
Sect. 4, Pg 54, G-1 Downtown Mixed Use
This section could highlight the potential for infill development and reuse/redevelopment of vacant and underutilized properties.

Sect 4, Pg 54, G-1 Mixed-Use NC 119 and US 70
Walkability/Natural Resources could highlight potential connections (sidewalk/path/trail) to the new park that will be built on the west side of downtown, in addition to downtown itself.

Sect 4, Pg 55, G-1 Mixed-Use Cameron Lane area
Walkability/Natural Resources could say “Provide carefully planned entrances and exits onto Mebane Oaks Road and South Fifth Street to encourage pedestrian safety.”

Section 5, Land Development Plan Recommendations
Will there be a section for economic development recommendations in the plan, or would they be included under another section?

Goal 1 .2
Regarding downtown, could emphasize support for infill development and higher use of existing properties (such as more upstairs residential) to help make downtown more vibrant.

Goal 1.5
The plan could support a diversity of housing types (such as small single-family units, patio homes, duplexes and mother-in-law apartments) to promote affordability.

It could call for any subsidized housing to be scattered throughout the city, not concentrated in any one area.
Jesse Day Jesse Day wrote on October 27, 2016 at 2:23 pm:
Comments received at the October 25 Advisory Committee Meeting
• How can “infill” be conducted in the “balance of the watershed”? City Staff mentioned that there are 334 acres of “reserve” that can be developed in the watershed and this allotment can be used in the areas north of US 70 and the railroad. (see Water Supply and Watershed Regulations section p. 46)
• Need to add land use and acreage values from 2001 for comparison to today’s allocations for comparison (p. 34)
• Add the City’s Annexation policy to Land Use and Land Suitability Section
• Map 13: Natural Resources – Update to reflect recommended buffers of 150 ft to corridors other than the priority greenway corridors and instead to streams and creeks with high natural resource and habitat value (e.g. streams that intersect the 500+ contiguous acre cover or are in the protected watershed. (p. 51 & 63 – Goal 5.3)
• Map 13: Natural Resources - Add adopted and propose greenway along Little Haw River
• Map 13: Natural Resources – Include map as a dynamic online map in www.MebaneByDesign.net
• Map 14: Growth Strategy Map – Show Green Infrastructure in a hashed overlay
• Goal 1.5 Affordable Housing – Add “quality” to affordable housing (p. 59)
• Public Facilities and Infrastructure – add a policy for providing facilities to traditionally underserved areas of Mebane (p. 59 & 60)
• Goal 4.2 Look at a parking study for Downtown Mebane to identify strategies for supply and access to the downtown area – encourage a public/private partnership (p. 61)
• Goal 5.4 Add a recommendation for a local land preservation “friends” group and policy on preserving local farms and agriculture and additional setbacks from ag uses (see prioritization plan for the Triangle Farm Lands conducted by CTNC)
• Goal 5.5 Change 2 acres to 3 acres or more
• Growth Projections and Scenarios will be added for review at the final Advisory Committee Meeting
Ben Wooten Ben Wooten from Mebane wrote on October 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm:
I’ve had a chance to review your document from yesterday’s meeting. Great information; this will certainly help Council in their decision making process! A few quick points to note:

P.28, Referencing map 7 (bicycle and pedestrian), do these routes match the current state designated roads for biking in and around Mebane? https://www.ncdot.gov/bikeped/ncbikeways/

P. 31, Second to last paragraph, referencing the Arrowhead Golf Club. If I’m thinking of the same course, this was replaced by the Tanger Outlet development and is no longer in use. Also, would this section be a good opportunity to reference collaborating with the YMCA? I only saw one other reference to that later in the document. Additionally, it might also be a good spot to mention IMPACT Alamance and Healthy Alamance, two organizations that would be great for the city to partner with for cost savings.

P.38 Office use – is it worth mentioning the possibility of the city acquiring land and building a mix-use Class A office space and parking deck in the downtown area? We discussed the parking deck some yesterday, but with the lack of office space downtown, it might be a good concept to present to the council. There is precedent for other cities doing something similar working with investors and lease to own strategies.

P. 63 Goals 5.3 & 5.4, another opportunity to reference continuing partnerships with IMPACT and Healthy Alamance.

Overall, from my standpoint, the information presented here is very helpful and inclusive. The effort your team put into building the document truly shows and I am appreciative to be a very small part of this work. Please let me know if you need any further clarification for my comments above.

Thanks,

Ben
Malinda Ford Malinda Ford wrote on March 19, 2016 at 4:12 pm:
Please share your comments about the Comprehensive Land Development Plan.

The Advisory Committee participating in a Growth Strategy Workshop (April 19, 2016):