Cary to residents: Help us plan for growth

07/18/2014 12:20 PM

07/18/2014 12:22 PM

High-end single-family homes dominate Cary’s housing market.

But with the average household size shrinking and Cary’s senior population growing, should the town seek to attract a wider range of housing choices?

The bulk of Cary’s businesses are located in traditional suburban office parks near U.S. 1 and Interstate 40.

But, considering a majority of Americans wish they could walk to work, should the town allow commercial development closer to residential areas?

Residents will soon get a chance to offer their take on these questions and more that relate to governing future development.

The town will host workshops Thursday and Saturday to gather feedback from the public on how it should write the Cary Community Plan, which will guide growth through the next few decades.

“The overarching question is: ‘What do we want Cary to be in 2040?’ ” said town planner Meredith Chandler.

The community plan is a project of Imagine Cary, a massive planning effort that involves town staff and residents.

The workshops mark the second time in the last year Imagine Cary has reached out to residents for help.

In November, the town asked residents to help them edit a vision statement that was drafted to guide the community plan.

This time, Imagine Cary will provide residents with information about the town’s changing demographics and ask residents to answer a handful of questions relating to four subjects:

• Where will we work?
• Where will we live?
• Where will we shop and dine?
• How will southwest Cary grow?

In the case of southwest Cary, the town wants to know if residents want to try to preserve a rural feel in the region or allow for more suburban development.

The area north of U.S. 64 and west of N.C. 55 was one of the last regions of town to attract growth. But the completion of N.C. 540 sparked development in the area.

Now residents seem divided on how the town should govern growth moving forward, according to Scott Ramage, a planner for the town.

Some new residents want to keep the area rural, but some longtime residents are ready to sell their land for new development, Ramage said during an Imagine Cary meeting earlier this year.

“We’re hearing the story more and more that none of the children of these families want to keep the farm,” he said. “They’re ready to sell for tuition money.”

Some of the tables and poster boards at the workshops will be interactive. For instance, the town plans to display photos of different types of housing, from apartments and lofts to traditional homes and assisted living.

Residents will be asked to place a blue sticker on the type of housing they’d prefer to live in today, and a red sticker on the type of housing they’d prefer to live in in the future.

“They’ll pick, post and vote,” Chandler said. “We’re trying to bring everything together.”

This fall, the town plans to hold another two workshops to talk about how Cary should develop its downtown and transportation options in the coming years.

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