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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.

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