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Citizens invited to help make Pittsboro a more walkable town

Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC - Would you like to make Pittsboro a more walkable town? An alliance of local, state and national civic and advocacy organizations, along with Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller and Triangle J Council of Governments, invite area residents to participate in walking tours of Pittsboro on Friday, March 30. The walking tours or "audits" will be held on the second day of a
three-day land use planning public workshop being sponsored by the Town of Pittsboro at the Central Carolina Community College {CCCC] campus to obtain citizen input on the direction and design of the town's future growth.

"This is an opportunity for area residents to participate directly in the planning process designed to make Pittsboro a more walkable and attractive place for people of all ages to live, work and visit," stated Mayor Voller, who will help lead walking tours starting at 10 am at CCCC and 4 pm at the General Store Café in downtown Pittsboro. "By encouraging people to walk in our community and neighborhoods, Pittsboro will be a safer, healthier and friendlier town."

The walking audits are being organized by the North Carolina Smart Growth Alliance, a statewide advocacy and educational organization located in downtown Pittsboro that promotes mixed-use, walkable communities and place-based economic development.

Assisting the Alliance in conducting these walking audits are Active Chatham, a local grass-roots health alliance organized by the Chatham County Health Department, the Chatham County Recreation Advisory Council and Recreation Department, Active Living by Design, a national organization headquartered at UNC Chapel Hill that promotes walkable and bikable communities, Triangle J Council of Governments and the town planner.

"Promoting pedestrian-oriented infrastructure and land use in our town will provide clear economic benefits," stated Jeffrey Starkweather, Executive Director of the Smart Growth Alliance, who is also a Pittsboro resident and board member of the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation. "There is solid evidence community walkability is a tourist magnet, is good for retail sales and increases property values. More importantly, investing in a community design that encourages walkability has long term health benefits that can result in improved school performance, increased worker productivity and reduction of family and community medical expenses."

Walkers will divide into groups to walk several pre-designated areas of town, including from CCCC to the downtown, from Churchwood Lane along the town's utility right-of-way to Town Lake Park and onto Horton Middle School, from downtown Pittsboro to both Chatham Mills on 15/501 north where the Chatham Market is located and to the post office on 64 east, and throughout the downtown area.

Walkers will be asked to suggest how to make their routes safer and easier to walk, and to comment on the visual appearance of buildings and streetscapes. The information gathered during these walking tours will be used by Paul Black, the Principal Planner for Triangle J, Pittsboro Planning Director David Monroe and N.C State Design students to draft future land use plans and design guidelines for these areas of town.

The three-day public workshop kicks off with a general introduction on Thursday, March 29, at 10 am at CCCC's large meeting room at its Pittsboro campus just west of town on U6 64. Area residents are invited to visit that day and provide their input and preferences concerning the future land use and design of the town.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday there will be a public introduction session providing the overview of the existing land use conditions and explanation of the workshop process for the remaining two days. Following Friday's focus on walking tours and visual preferences, Saturday's public session will start at 10 am and end at 5 pm. Planners and citizens will work together with the data and information gathered during the previous two days to draft future land use plans, maps, and design guidelines for the town.

Triangle J Council of Governments, of which Pittsboro is a member, is working with the town under a contract to develop an updated comprehensive land use plan for the town. Following the workshop, there will be a series of focus groups on specific topic areas with designated stakeholders and professionals. Once a draft plan has been developed, the Town plans to hold another public meeting with citizens to present the plan and obtain additional public input.

For more information on the three-day workshop contact Planning Director David Monroe at 542-4621, ext. 34 or Triangle J Principal Planner Paul Black at 558-9397. For more information about participating in the Thursday's walking tours contact Jeffrey Starkweather at 417-0969 or e-mail Pittsboro Mayor, Randy Voller at randy@voller.org.

 
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