Citizens view of the Holly Springs Retreat

I first of all would like to thank all the town staff, council, mayor, fire and police chief for being so inviting and answering the many questions I had throughout the retreat. It was an incredible experience as I got to see the amount of planning, work and thought process that goes into the major planning of our great city.

I hope I can do justice with explaining from my views and perspective but I am really looking forward from others that was there to hopefully share their input.

In the first session they discussed transportation, I unfortunately wasn't there. I asked others the main topic, they said the major points was current road improvements and possibility of a transportation bond. I was informed that the town staff will be having a workshop in the near future to explain the needs and possible future plans of what projects that's being targeted.

The 2nd session, open discussion was led by moderator Shannon Tuft's. In my opinion I was disappointed as there was many issues that needed to be brought up and discussed. To me I feel a moderator should be neutral, she spent the first 3 1/2 hours leading with an agenda that I feel was not there. We didn't have many citizens that was there but the majority left during this time.

Was so glad when Dan Berry spoke up and said it was not us. He said we have issues to talk about so please let us talk about them. The last hour was really good as a great discussion finally happened, some of the issues was finally on the table.

Tom O'Brien brought up Durhams social media policy and asked for advice, Shannon brought up that we are not alone as this is a major issue. She gave some great suggestions that hopefully help going forward. Was interesting to learn how Chief Herring and police officers have to be so careful.

Saturday morning SAPI Presentation- This was a great presentation by Gina and Jay Smith from O'Brien Adkins. Couple of my biggest take a ways is how the addition of Walmart and the 55 businesses really impacted how the CGA's (Community Growth Area's) was impacted.

Peter Villadsen brought up a great point, what is the reasoning of having 3 CGA's in such close proximity, Avent Ferry/Cass Holt, Honeycutt/Piney Grove Wilbon, and the one at Rouse/Cass Holt. Daniel Weeks brought up the possibility of removing two of them, which in my opinion makes great sense as they are areas of high density and by removing them can reduce 300-400 homes.

The findings of the SAPI was the addition of 5,200 homes in the 12.2 square mile area. The staff wanted to have the council make a decision as February 20th is the end of the moratorium for new developments for this area. The entire town council stated there wasn't enough information to base a decision at this time. They are concerned that this area could not handle this type of density, especially the roads and traffic.

Cheri Lee brought up her concerns of the impact of adding that many new homes with the already 1,500 homes approved in that area. She knows this area well as she lives within the SAPI area.

Kendra Parrish our town engineer agreed with Cheri and said without modeling and understanding traffic and the future road bond, it is impossible to base a decision. I know the staff will be planning a future workshop.

To me I really feel our town council united for the first time as all felt we need to prepare for the future and it's impact. Christine Kelly asked what are the finances of the town so we have a better understanding, Chuck Simmons the Town Manager stated that we have enough approved lots for 8-10 years. I really never took the time to talk with Chuck but I have to share with you what a great leader he is.

The next session was about historical preservation., it was interesting to learn the process. Hopefully someone can post additional information.

Time was running out and the staff said there will be a future workshop for clear cutting and tree preservation. This is good as now the public can go and become part of the discussion and process.

Much work to do and so thankful for all the past staff and town council that built this great place and to the current who have many challenges ahead.