A majority of Cary residents who recently participated in a town survey said they wanted to see a wider variety of residential and commercial development.
The survey – which residents can take online until October – is being conducted by Imagine Cary, a massive multiyear planning effort that will produce a plan that could govern development through 2040.
The survey asks residents generic and specific questions about what types of commercial and residential developments the town should allow, and where the developments should be located.
Answers to basic questions were revealed on Tuesday at a meeting for the Committee for the Future, a group of residents that advises Imagine Cary.
Most of the people who took the survey by mid-September said they’d like Cary to encourage more housing near commercial centers, said planning consultant Leigh Anne King.
“(Providing housing) choices near commercial centers had the most support and the least negative responses,” she said.
Survey-takers could have also told the town to keep its housing options the same or pursue more traditional subdivisions. The option to keep Cary’s residential options the same received the least support.
Some committee members said they were surprised by the results.
“What I hear from so many people is, ‘We don’t want it to change,’ ” said resident Sheila Ogle.
The majority of survey takers also said they want Cary to encourage office spaces to open near mixed-use centers, and allow for more retail and dining businesses in areas with the appropriate infrastructure.
Jeanne Holmes said she was especially surprised by the support for mixed-use developments, considering 65 percent of survey respondents were between the ages of 45 and 74. Generally speaking, she said, older folks support lower-density plans while young adults support higher-density projects.
“It makes me think they (older residents) were voting with their kids in mind,” she said.
The results show Cary residents want “walkable communities that they can drive to,” said Louis Eldridge, the committee chairman.
Other survey results weren’t as clear.
As expected, Cary residents who took the survey were split on what type of development should be encouraged in the southwestern part of town – north of U.S. 64 and west of N.C. 55.
About 108 people said they want to maintain “very low” density in the area, while 104 said they’d welcome a “medium” level of density.
Town officials have said residents who are newer to the southwest Cary area want to keep it rural, while some longtime residents are ready to sell their land to developers. It’s unclear where most of the survey respondents live.
King’s consulting firm has yet to analyze and release more detailed information from the survey, so committee members were hesitant to interpret the data or say how it will influence their planning efforts.
“There’s interest in a little bit of housing diversity. … That’s really all we know,” said Robert Keely.
Keely and others said they hope more residents will take the online survey before the end of the month.
The group of residents who took the survey by mid-September didn’t accurately represent Cary’s demographics, King said.
White people make up 73 percent of the town’s population but accounted for 84 percent of the survey pool. Cary’s black, Asian and Latino populations were underrepresented in the survey.