Last month, GoTriangle (formerly Triangle Transit) met the public to discuss routes and station locations for the planned Durham-Orange Light Rail line.
This week, Durham planners start meeting the public to discuss five “compact neighborhoods” whose borders will guide development planned around those stations.
The first meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Githens Middle School, on the Patterson Place area.
The meetings continue each Thursday through April, in order of the Duke/VA medical centers area, Alston Avenue, and Leigh Village; with one Tuesday meeting, April 28, on South Square.
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“Compact neighborhood” is one of the development “tiers” established in a land-use plan the city and county governments adopted in 2006. Created with future mass-transit systems in mind, the plan describes compact neighborhoods as “areas surrounding proposed fixed guideway transit stations.
“These are areas identified for high density and intensity infill, redevelopment, and new development that integrate a mix of uses through an urban fabric that includes enhanced bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The Compact Neighborhood Tier is expected to have an improved street level experience and discourage auto-oriented and low intensity uses.” (Comprehensive Plan, chapter 2, policy 2.1.2e.)
Anticipating a commuter-rail line between Durham and Raleigh, planners set compact neighborhoods around the medical centers, Ninth Street, Alston Avenue and two sites at the Research Triangle Park; and designated several “suburban transit areas” for eventual conversion to compact neighborhoods as longer-range sections of a regional rail system were planned.
Recent development in the Ninth Street area reflects the compact neighborhood concept and rules spelled out in the Ninth Street Compact Design District, a place-specific zoning code.
Since 2006, the Durham-Raleigh line has become longer-range. As the Durham-Chapel Hill part of the plan has moved ahead, some proposed station sites – such as the medical centers and Alston Avenue – have changed, requiring a new look at the compact neighborhood boundaries.
Redrawing the land-use maps won’t affect current zoning inside compact neighborhoods right away. It will affect the likelihood of future rezoning requests getting approval, as well as what sorts of new development and redevelopment are allowed there.
And, according to a planning department memo to city and county elected officials (bit.ly/1DOnayu), once the boundaries are set the planning department expects to seek rezonings, as needed, to fit the compact, dense, transit-supportive concept – similar to the Ninth Street code, and, like it, specific to each particular neighborhood.
Before taking effect, though, those rules and guidelines would be subject to their own processes of public input and officials’ scrutiny.
In the meantime, the planning department is holding this month’s boundary meetings, with followup public meetings to show what the planners have drawn up before it goes up for more public hearings by the Planning Commission, City Council and Board of County Commissioners.
The city-county planning department starts a series of public-comment meetings this week, each on where to draw “compact neighborhood” boundaries at a station on the proposed light-rail line between East Durham and UNC Hospitals.
Each meeting has a workshop format, with a formal presentation to start and a comment period afterward.
▪ Patterson Place station: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Githens Middle School, 4800 Old Chapel Hill Road.
▪ Duke/VA Medical Center station: 6 p.m. April 16, W.I. Patterson Community Center, 2614 Crest St.
▪ Alston Avenue station: 6:30 p.m. April 23, Eastway Elementary School, 610 N. Alston Ave.
▪ South Square/MLK station: 6 p.m. April 28, Southwest Regional Library, 3605 Shannon Road.
▪ Leigh Village station: 6:30 p.m. April 30, Creekside Elementary School, 5321 Ephesus Church Road.
For information on compact neighborhood planning, see bit.ly/1ay1ED5; or contact Hannah Jacobson, 919-560-4137, ext. 28247, Hannah.Jacobson@DurhamNC.gov. For information on the Durham-Orange Light Rail project, see bit.ly/1Cqah82.