Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Town Council Considers Land & Transportation Plan – Its NOT What Citizens Wanted

Updated 3/11/09

Morrisville’s new Land Use & Transportation Plan (LUTP) will impact how you live, work, shop, and commute for the next 25 years. Does it reflect what citizens want? The purpose of the Town’s public workshops, focus groups and plan advisory committee was to assure that the interests, needs and vision of Morrisville citizens were the basis of the Plan. The LUTP being proposed does not fulfill this objective. The Town cites divergent and opposing views of Morrisville residents. However, there are many examples of clear citizen preferences being supplanted by Town staff proposals.

At all the public and advisory committee meetings, not one citizen asked for ADDITIONAL “mixed use” Regional Activity Centers (RAC) adjacent to the yet to be constructed Park West Village (NC 54 and Cary Pkwy). A “RAC” is large, high density retail, commercial and residential development (like Park West). To the contrary, low density residential homes were sought to compliment the surrounding prime single family neighborhoods (Preston, Weston Estates, Crabtree Crossing, and Huntington). Early in the process, the public and plan advisory committee were asked to choose between a "Scenario A" and "Scenario B" of possible land use. Overwhelmingly, "B" with its low density residential homes around Park West was preferred by citizens. Some citizens suggested a small medical facility to serve the residential communities. However, to provide it, there was no call to designate the area for substantial additional higher density mixed use. This proposal to add ADDITIONAL RAC’s around Park West comes solely from the Town staff.

Since the Land Use Plan is designed for the long term, current market conditions should not overrule what citizens asked for. Market conditions will change. It was only a few years ago that Cary rezoned a number of large parcels in Weston from commercial concentration to low density residential. The Land & Transportation Plan should reflect what citizen’s want for the future, not what developers prefer today.

The public and committee’s citizen members preferred the enhancement of Morrisville as low-density residential community, NOT as proposed in LUTP (higher density residential, commercial and over 900 acres of “mixed use” development). The message that was repeated over and over again was "no more large development" and "slow down" growth" (the same message that was heard at the recent Town Hall public meeting on the proposed tax increase). However, the LUTP reclassifies a significant amount of land parcels for commercial and dense residential development. Although there were a few residents who asked for "more shopping," the number of large shopping complexes already in the works (Wal-Mart, Park West, and Cary's proposed NC54/Weston Pkwy RAC) were not taken into account. The Town management emphasizes some answers given in an unscientific online survey, and discount the considerable public participation in the workshop and focus groups.

More than any land, transportation or other Town issue, Morrisville citizens’ highest priority was the improvement of NC 54. Many believed that the problems of NC 54 and its potential solutions should be the cornerstone of the Transportation Plan. However, NC 54 wasn't treated as a major item in earlier LUTP drafts. Following strong insistence by the plan’s advisory committee, NC 54 is provided greater status in the current draft. But the practicality and desirability of possible expansion examples that are summarized in the Transportation Plan were never presented at public meetings to citizens or discussed by the plan’s advisory committee. Important consideration of NC 54 solutions were not emphasized during the LUTP process.

Citizens’ emails and opinions at the public workshops were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal for the Crabtree Crossing Parkway extension. The consensus of the advisory committee was NOT to include the extension in the LUTP. It will cost approximately $15-20 million dollars to construct (equal to almost the Town's entire operating budget). Excluding the Crabtree Crossing extension from the LUTP should be a "no brainer." However, the Town management provides undue emphasis to some support years ago when the extension would have been needed as a major detour. The railroad had considered closing its track crossing on Morrisville Pkwy for a year to construct an overpass for a proposed commuter rail system. In addition, this was before the prime residential homes were completed on Crabtree Crossing Parkway. These original conditions no longer exist! Although approximately 90% now express opposition, the Transportation Plan wrongly states that opinion is equally divided.

These are only a few of the major examples of where the proposed LUTP doesn't reflect the "voice of the people." Actually, it is contrary to it. There may be a belief that the "experts" know better. But the Town "experts" also recommended a 19% tax increase. There is still time for the Town Council to make certain that the LUTP is what citizens asked for!

Remaining Meeting Scheduled at Town Hall.
Tues, Mar 24 – 6:30 pm: Possible Approval

For information on reviewing the proposals, please click on the following link: 2009 Land Use & Transportation Plans.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Clearly your presentation is skewed to match your personal belief and not necessarily the other 14,000 residents of Morrisville. 4 of 10 members do not make a consensus. It is clear your view is the only acceptable view in your mind.
November 9, 2008 10:49 PM


Anonymous said...

The article is only speaking of the CITIZEN members of the Plan Advisory Committee (read it again). Eliminating the NON-RESIDENTS, will finds that the majority of the Committee agree. Also, the consensus expressed at the Public Workshops and Focus Groups were clearly in accord with the article. Many hundreds of residents attended these public meetings. I particpated in all of them.
November 10, 2008 7:59 AM


Lee said...

Sorry, but the extension of Crabtree Crossing was actually approved by a vote of the citizens in the Bond Issue as part of the Overall M-C improvements, so to somehow say that there is an overwhelming tide against it is incorrect.

Also, considering that the Extension of Triangle Parkway is likely never to happen (it is not in the plan for the toll project, inspite of millions being spent on the bridges to make it possible as part of 540) I am not sure that it can be used against the CC extension either.

Funny how many people who are anti everything about Morrisville growth seem to be from the area in Preston. I suppose people are just mad that they are not in Cary or something. Luckily, someone in Morrisville allowed their homes to be built.

Now, I think they have screwed up plenty in the town as well as DOT in not keeping up with roads, but stopping everything now will not solve that issue at all and in some cases may hurt a potential fix. At least Park West will correct a major source of bottlenecking at the Cary Parkway and 54 intersection. Anyone who has driven 54 can see that a dedicated right turn lane from Eastbound 54 to southbound Cary PArkway will greatly help the delays there.
December 2, 2008 12:59 PM


Anonymous said...

Citizen emails and opinions at the LUTP public workshops were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed Crabtree Crossing Parkway extension. The consensus of the Plan's advisory committee was NOT to include the extension in the LUTP. It will cost approximately $15-20 million dollars to construct (equal to almost the Town's entire operating budget). Excluding the Crabtree Crossing extension from the LUTP should be a "no brainer." However, the Town management and Consultant provide undue emphasis to some support years ago when the extension would have been needed as a major detour. The railroad had considered closing its track crossing on Morrisville Pkwy for a year to construct an overpass for a proposed commuter rail system. The railroad would have also shared a considerable portion of the road extension’s cost with the Town. In addition, this was before the prime residential homes were completed on Crabtree Crossing Parkway. These original conditions when the Bond issue was approved no longer exist! Although approximately 90% now express opposition, the Transportation Plan wrongly implies that opinion is equally divided.
December 2, 2008 5:00 PM

Lee said...

SOrry, but the facts related to CRabtree Crossing are all wrong. Most of the "prime residential homes" on Crabtree Crossing were completed prior to the vote for the Bond issue. I am also struggling to see what their cost range has anything to do with a road being built? Should the super rich (I would say that to many, almost every single citizen of Morrisville could be considered rich or at least well into upper middle class) get what they want to the exclusion of all else? I can also remember no mention of closing the M-C intersection during the bond issue run up and I was living in Morrisville at the time, unlike many who are opposed to this road now.

Now, on the other hand, I have long thought the connection of Crabtree crossing almost directly to 147 could bring some issues. Clearly, Cary and Morrisville have differing points of view as to what that road corridor should be. Personally, I don;t think it will not be the end of the world if CC is not extended, though it would greatly help many commuters move through Cary and Morrisville.

However, to say that there is not citizen support is a falsehood when it is the one project of all in the LTP that was actually voted on by the citizens.

Now, whether you agree with the extension or not, the fact that this road has not been built already and that the M-C intersection improvements have not yet been built so many years after approval of the citizens makes me wonder just what the town has been doing all this time. Their mismanagement of this project has grown to almost legendary status in my opinion and their lack of action has cost the taxpayers lots of money and a greantly reduced scope of improvements.

Anonymous said...

The facts are right. I clearly remember the whole issue of CCX being related to the RR's closing of Morrisville Parkway for a year. Since the RR was going to pay almost one-half of the cost of CCX, the Bond issue was only for $4million (about 1/2 the cost).

During this time, I also remember visiting homes on Crabtree Crossing durng a "Parade of Homes." Most were still under construction. It's not a matter or rich or poor people. It is all about kids, golf carts and home owners being endangered by heavy pass-through traffic from NC54 being diverted through a residential neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I regularly cut through this neighborhood and there aren't any kids on the road either in the morning or evening or weekends for that matter. The rich say no and the thousands who voted in 2004 are ignored. Commissioner Murray forgot who voted for him in the last election and it will be remembered this November!