Carolina North’s Evans: Don’t pin me down…

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

A third of the way through my second “live” LAC meeting – the second with Evans as UNC’s point man – and a nascent theme from the last meeting has emerged full-blown: “Don’t pin me down…”

Last week [PDF], when questioned on specific environmental goals for Carolina North, Evans dismissed specific language.

Dan Coleman: Can we assume that the University does not want Carolina North to have a negative impact on the air quality of Chapel Hill? Given the way the principle is worded, is it the word ‘insure’ that is too strong a word? Is the hang-up in that phrase?

Jack Evans: My interest is not in wordsmithing. Agreed that we want a different wording for that section. The University people are interested in doing something innovative here; but we don’t want to find ourselves trapped by wording that doesn’t have the right intention/target…

Further, when asked about using stiff protections to limit growth to a specific sized footprint at Carolina North, BOT member (and local developer) Roger Perry responded

Ken Broun: Others will have a chance to comment. University comments: University disagrees: preserve in perpetuity the maximum amount of open space, with goal of preserving 75% of Horace Williams property.

Roger Perry: The problem: we are firmly committed to building Carolina North on as small a portion of the property as possible; are committed to environmentally protecting Bolin Creek and sensitive environmental areas to the best possible reasonable practices. That will leave additional land in Carolina North, after you take out the footprint for Carolina North and the environment protection areas and the green spaces and trail system. There’s no way that the Board of Trustees could take the rest of that land and say that it will never be developed. Not responsible, even if we could. Technologies change. Needs change. Missions change. That remaining land that is developable is an asset of the State of North Carolina. To say that it would never be used is not responsible, in keeping with our mission to the State. We would never be able to do that.

More on Perry’s strange, strained intransigence later.

This week, Evans expressed concern that the local Chamber of Commerce’s request that “Carolina North Creates public amenities such as schools, parks, conference facilities, performance space, trails and greenways that are open and welcoming to the general public” would be used as a firm list of deliverables. In other words, this desire would eventually transmute into a promise to provide “a school,a park,a performance space”, etc.

The committee turns to transit.

Wow! Evans: “single occupancy vehicles critical to Carolina North”.

Comments from UNC’s delegation following that interesting revelation seem to indicate a decision, absent the pending transit study and analysis, that the single occupancy vehicle is king at Carolina North.

Their claims have the feeling of a conclusion chasing a justification.

Evans trundles out the red-herring smoke screen that Carolina North’s build out will be very slow…that it will take decades to reach a daily population of 20,000. I say red-herring because the recent massive main campus build out demonstrated that when UNC has the will and the money, they can build like mad.

Finally (at least for this update), Roger Perry comments he’s never seen a development brought before Council where Council has asked for some of the workers to be housed on-site. Of course, he has seen, with his own Meadowmont, a requirement that residents’ kids be schooled on-site.

This seems to be a continuing theme from UNC’s delegation: Carolina North is, short term, a small development – a development essentially no different than a private development – and the “conditions” that elected folk want to moderate its more negative impacts somehow violate “equal protection” , so to speak.

I’ll be digging through this weeks video to try to capture the nuance of UNC’s transit nyets. Hopefully, the video will be up on the Carolina North site fairly quickly. Until then, here’s a link [Video of August 24, 2006 meeting of Leadership Advisory Committee (WMV)] to last weeks.

Crawford-Brown: “I’ll take the brickbats from both sides…”

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Dr. Crawford-Brown claimed at today’s LAC meeting that he feels he does more work on behalf of Chapel Hill’s Town Council than for the University even though he’s a member of the University’s delegation – and the director of UNC’s Carolina Environmental Program.

Trying to clarify his role, Crawford-Brown said he’s here as a scientist, an expert and that, though he works for UNC, he’s giving his balanced opinion. Or, as he colorfully put it, “I’ll take brickbats from both sides…”.

Dan Coleman followed up Crawford-Brown’s statement by asking Dean Jack Evans what role, then, was Crawford-Brown playing vis-a-vis UNC’s delegation. Essentially, he was asking Evans if Crawford-Brown’s statements should be construed as representing the University’s position. Evans danced around, avoiding answering the question, because he feels the firm roles of the committee members shouldn’t be pinned down while the substantive content of the recommendations are being formalized.

Sure, Crawford-Brown has a tough balancing act trying to forge a coherent vision of environmental analysis at Carolina North both as a member of the UNC delegation and a concerned scientist.

He is in an unenviable position considering he’s been positioned by UNC’s Jack Evans as their environmental expert. No matter what, to preserve his value as “THE” expert, he must continue to maintain at least the appearance of making unbiased appraisals of the LAC’s environmental strategies wherever his loyalties lie.

Evans could’ve helped Crawford-Brown by clarifying his specific role as “the expert.”

More on Crawford-Brown’s personal environmental philosophy.

4:17pm UNC Leadership Advisory Committee meeting on Carolina North development.

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