February 2006

The DTH has just announced the UNC’s picks for the new Carolina North leadership advisory board: (more…)

Following on the steps of my previous post, Mayor Foy issued a formal response to UNC’s Ken Broun’s presentation about the new leadership advisory board on Carolina North.

Observing that the town has already formed a committee to discuss Carolina North, the Mayor and Council has referred UNC’s response to the 2004 HWCC report to the HWCC for further comment (my 1st meeting as a new member of the HWCC is Feb. 16th). Quick aside: I was the 1st person in Chapel Hill to volunteer for this new UNC committee.

Following up on the Broun presentation itself, Council made several notable comments and requests for information:

  • What tasks do you wish the committee to perform?
  • What outcomes do you expect?
  • How would the work produced be different than that of the HWCC?
  • Timeline: When would the committee be appointed? Start work? End work? [Mr. Broun’s a busy guy, where will he get the time?]
  • Is the proposed committee composition the final structure? Who’s already been appointed?
  • Is UNC committed to supporting a long-range transit plan?
  • Will UNC address the fiscal equity problem? When?
  • Will UNC consider the Town’s proposals for preserving open space and the environment?
  • Is there a definite plan for the Horace-Williams airport’s closure?

One question I would’ve added: How deep is the UNC Board of Trustee’s commitment to this new process?

Two other notable comments from the letter.

One, pointing out that “Mr. Broun had been assured, and strongly believed, that the University recognized the Town’s regulatory power”, did this mean that UNC “recognizes the legitimacy of the Town’s zoning power over Carolina North and does not intend to seek relief” from that authority?

Wow! The Council wants firm confirmation and so do I.

Two, the observation that the “speedy” 1 year negotiations over OI-4 were necessary to accommodate the influx of development on Main Campus spurred by the just passed Education Bond. No such pressure to rapidly move forward, on the Town’s part, exists now. Given that, the Town will still, as a sign of good faith address these requests in a timely fashion.

UNC announced a new committee whose functions the new leader Ken Broun describe in this Jan. 11th column and current UNC Chancellor Moeser described in this subsequent Jan 22nd column.

Two years in the making and as a sign of good faith UNC released their response to the 2004 Horace-Williams Citizen Committee’s Report.

I applaud this first step though I’m a bit disappointed that, given two years and substantial debate over those ensuing years, the response to the HWCC report wasn’t more thorough.

The Daily Tar Heel published my response and suggestions on how to move the process forward in their Feb. 1st edition:

There are many questions surrounding the proposed Carolina North project.

Will it be as vital to North Carolina’s economic development as Chancellor James Moeser has claimed? Are the financial assumptions for its capitalization sound? What are the true environmental and neighborhood impacts of this $1.5 billion, 50-year project?

And, chiefly, how do we move the planning and design process forward?

My interest in Carolina North is not academic.

I’m a 14-year neighbor of the Horace Williams Citizens Airport, and a vocal watchdog of UNC’s development plans.

I’ve joined the town’s Horace Williams citizens committee. As a 2005 council candidate, I called for a drastic rethinking of UNC’s predicate parameters for the project.

And I volunteered to join UNC’s new community leadership advisory committee for Carolina North.

Echoing the rhetoric from my campaign, professor Ken Broun, former Chapel Hill mayor and new leader of UNC’s advisory committee, said, “Let’s start from the beginning and have a full discussion, as if we had a blank map.”

If we’re entering new territory our citizenry will have to put some old hurts and hard-earned lessons, for now, off the table.

The disappointment of UNC’s failed 1997 community outreach on “Outlying Parcels Land Use Plans,” the outrages along Mason Farm Road, the high-handed behavior during the 2003 chiller plant negotiations, the recent muddled planning process and the other bumps and bruises throughout recent years should not be forgotten but, instead, be put aside in good faith as we attempt to craft a new process.