In 2018, the FHA Board of Directors established the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC). This committee meets regularly to examine future issues of the Village and determine a way forward. In early 2020, the LRPC determined the need for a community survey and asked the Lifestyle Subcommittee to conduct that effort. During the summer and into the fall of 2020, the subcommittee developed the survey instrument and launched its survey in November 2020. The survey was distributed to 1709 individual residents; 900 completed surveys were returned, a remarkable 52.7% response rate.
Results of the survey suggest that residents have a generally positive view of life in the Village. They appreciate the attractiveness of their surroundings, their neighbors, the many paths and trails, and the general safety of the Village. Residents tend to be active, with the vast majority using the walking trails at least occasionally. Villagers use and appreciate the availability of Village shops and restaurants and the Farmers Market. Health and wellness are supported by the Duke Center for Living and Fearrington Cares, both used by over 40% of the population.
Current concerns have surfaced, some of which are presently under the sole or partial control of the developer, Fitch Creations. Wastewater issues are apparently the primary concern of most residents currently. In the longer term, three other related concerns became apparent: upkeep of the Village, the future of the Village Center, and the community after the developer completes build-out. The deteriorating infrastructure is also of concern. In the short term, repair of infrastructure and improvement of trails appear to be of primary importance. Most Villagers are willing to contribute something toward problem solution, especially based on the specific issue at hand. However, approximately one quarter of residents had no interest in contributing.
Perceptions of FHA
The FHA is viewed favorably by approximately two-thirds of residents, though many of its activities are not fully recognized. The major source of displeasure, for those who do not believe the FHA is meeting their needs, deals with covenant enforcement. Other areas of displeasure are perceived lack of maintenance on trails, the tree canopy, and infrastructure. A lack of adequate communication was also noted. When asked what issue should be addressed first, wastewater management was selected, infrastructure also rated highly, as did trail maintenance and road safety. Many residents are concerned about individuals walking on roadways, despite the availability of trails. When asked about the potential for a dues increase to remediate these issues, the response was positive.
Feedback on The Gathering Place
The Gathering Place is a facility that serves as a meeting site for most organizations in Fearrington Village. It is used by two-thirds of residents, though use is variable from “often” to “hardly at all.” For most residents, The Gathering Place was found to meet their needs, though one in five found it inadequate. The inadequacies included shortcomings in technology, lack of room size, and lack of comfortable chairs. When asked what to do about The Gathering Place, over one in five residents were unsure, while another one in five said to do nothing. An additional one in five would like the existing structure to be modernized or expanded. There appears to be little interest in building a new structure.
Feedback on Walking Trails
One of the most popular features in Fearrington Village is the walking trails. More than 80% of respondents use the trails regularly. The trails are viewed as a major resource. Most people find them either fine, or useable but in need of maintenance. Forty percent of respondents feel that trail maintenance should be the responsibility of the FHA. Thirty-nine percent were unsure as to who should be responsible. There was notable support for an increase in FHA dues for trail maintenance. A majority of residents would like to have additional trails, mainly to provide more options for walking. There was broad support for policies that protect wildlife. However, several residents wish to have the deer population controlled. There was even greater support for policies to protect our tree canopy, which is rapidly aging.
Feedback on Communications
Communications within the Village is a topic of major interest. Most residents feel that FHA communication about issues and events is adequate, but roughly 40% feel either unsure about the quality of communication or found it inadequate. The FHA was cited as the major source of information about the Village, but neighbors and the Nextdoor online service also rated highly. The vehicle most cited as a source of information was the online FHA newsletter. Many residents also rely on the Directory. The FHA website appears to be under-utilized. The website meets the needs of two-thirds of respondents. For some, it appears that topics of interest are too hard to find, and the interface is not user-friendly.
You can find more details on the FHA website, where you can find the survey questions, a summary of responses to each question, and a more complete analysis of the results. Individual comments have been removed from the data file to preserve anonymity.
—Lifestyle Subcommittee of the Long-Range Planning Committee