Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Land Use & Transportation Plan Committee Member Speaks Out


Morrisville’s long awaited new Land Use and Transportation Plan (LUTP) will be unveiled at the meeting of its Planning and Zoning Board on Thursday, August 14 at Town Hall. Having served on the Plan Advisory Committee for the past nine months, following is my critique of the proposal.

1 – LAND USE PLAN

A – Low Density Zoning: We are all aware of Morrisville’s major traffic problems and inadequate road infrastructure. Whether it is residential or commercial, planning for even more high density land use is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It effect, the limitations of the proposed Transportation Plan should impact the design of the Land Use Plan. Without solutions to the associated increase in automobile traffic, the Land Use Plan should have avoided designating land parcels for high density use. At the Land Use and Transportation Plan workshops and focus groups, a majority of the Town’s citizens clearly stated: “No more large development” and “Slow down growth.”

B – Residential Land Use: Most citizens seek Morrisville to “be a place to live, NOT a place to drive to.” Our Town’s primary appeal is being a residential community with desirable single-family owner-occupied homes. However, it has been estimated that approximately 20,000 residents from other municipalities drive into Morrisville to work and an additional tens of thousands drive through Morrisville to RTP and other job sites outside of our Town. I believe that the Land Use Plan should have concentrated on enhancing Morrisville’s appeal as an attractive residential community. Too many times the Plan diverts from this goal as well as proposing land use that significantly adds to the Town’s heavy traffic volume.

C – “Regional Activity Center” Designation of Parcels Surrounding Park West Village: The expanded area surrounding the planned “mixed use” shopping complex of Park West Village (almost 100 acres of retail and commercial outlets at Cary Parkway and Route 54) is predominately low-density single family owner occupied homes (Preston, Weston Estates, etc.). It is one of the prime residential areas in the Triangle. Planning for additional large “retail activity centers” around Park West Village may seriously impact the area’s value and appeal. There was no public support expressed for ADDITIONAL Regional Activity Centers at this location. This Land Use proposal is solely from the Town Staff.

2 – TRANSPORTATION PLAN

A – Route 54 (Chapel Hill Road): At all of the public workshops, citizens had overwhelming identified Route 54 as THE major issue for the Town. Unless a viable solution to its traffic congestion is implemented, the future development of Morrisville is constrained. Any future growth will only exacerbate the Chapel Hill Road traffic congestion. Although the current Draft of the Transportation Plan now “recognizes” the significance of the problem, there is still no concrete plan to deal with it. The revised Plan simply conceptualizes what Route 54 should look like in the future. If the new Morrisville Transportation Plan didn’t do anything else, a specific proposal and timetable for improving Route 54 should have been proposed. I believe a specific plan for the needed improvements of Chapel Hill Road, in phases and within a specified timeframe, should have been a key part of the Transportation Plan.

B – Crabtree Crossing Extension: In the current Draft of the Morrisville Transportation Plan, considerable “public comment” is cited to have been made for the proposed Crabtree Crossing Extension. Not reported is the fact that almost all of it is opposed to the proposal. The Town’s most recent expense estimate for this road extension is at least 11 million dollars (it might be more like 20 million in today’s dollars). The Town now believes that about 2,000 autos would utilize the planned connector road daily. However, most of this traffic would feed into a limited travel street in a prime residential neighborhood. Considerable expense (to both Town and residents) would be needed to install traffic deterring and calming measures on Crabtree Crossing Parkway. Any minimal additional emergency response time that might be gained by the road extension would be more than offset by the obstacles and blockage caused the by the new traffic calming measures. The citizens overwhelming voiced rejection of this proposal. It will have to be constructed a phenomenal cost to the Town. To me logic and common sense indicate that it SHOULD NOT be included as a proposal in the Town’s revised Transportation Plan.

After review by the Planning & Zoning Board, the proposed Land Use and Transportation Plan will next be considered by the Town’s Board of Commissioners. Please review the proposals and attend the P&Z and Commissioners meetings. Since the final Plan will set direction for Morrisville for decades, let your opinions be known at the public hearings and in email to the two Town Boards:

planningboard@ci.morrisville.nc.us

MayorandCommissioners@ci.morrisville.nc.us

LUTP Advisory Committee Member

1 comment:

Lee said...

Is it appropriate for a member of the LUTP committee to be posting these comments prior to the plan being completed and announced?

Personally, I have a hard time saying that people are against the Extension of Crabtree Crossing when they voted overwhelmingly for the bonds to extend it and widen M-C road. I agree that a certain few people off Crabtree Crossing might not like it, but the rest of Morrisville most likely does.

Now, the Town certainly squandered the bond money by waiting forever to do anything while costs went up up up and now are doing a pale reflection of what they should do with respect to M-C Road, but I beleive people want more connections, not fewer. The extension would take quite a bit of local Morrisville/Cary traffic off Highway 54.