Wake Up Wake County

Panel discussion

Panel discussion

Two important local developers, John Kane & Greg Hatem, sat down with two planners, Mitch Silver, Raleigh City Planning Director, and Melanie Wilson, former Wake Co. Planner at Sitti in a panel discussion before 150 Emerging Tar Heel Leaders to discuss the future of Raleigh and Wake Co.  With some kibittizing from Raleigh City Council Member Thomas Crowder and State Senator Joel Stein, the group talked about mixed-use development, affordable housing, and regional land use development.  Since I’m writing about public  transit, transit-oriented development and its requisite higher density were topics of interest.  The Triangle has followed a pattern of urban sprawl for the past 50 years that no longer can be sustained, as public agencies can no longer afford to extend utilities and other public services to ever expanding areas that cannot be annexed.  Raleigh is in the process of completing the first comprehensive urban plan in 20 years so the issues were current and highly relevant.  Although the majority of those present indicated that they were voters, only 8 percent of eligible voters voted in the last municipal election.  All of the national notoriety of Raleigh as one of the fastest growing and most livable areas in the county can’t mask the fact that we’re running out of land and water and approaching transportation gridlock similar to that of larger cities.  We will need to find ways to protect the open spaces and greenery that attracted people here in the first place or we will stifle growth.  As what happened in Houston 20 years ago, we have a chance with the current recession to catch our breath and build the infrastructure and develop long-range goals to accommodate the growth that will surely come in the next 20 years.

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