I’m a longtime watchdog of the UNC development process.
UNC, with Carolina North, started off as they had with many of their main campus projects – discounting our community’s concerns and dispensing with residents input.
I knew there had to be a better way to work towards a satisfactory conclusion for both our University and our community. So, in 2005, I renewed my call to UNC and the Town to create a more stable framework for dealing both with our common concerns and our disagreements.
I’m not sure how much my encouragement helped but UNC, by late 2005, did create a new kind of community effort. UNC’s Leadership Advisory Committee – the LAC – was created to try to find common ground among all the participants in the Carolina North process.
I threw my support behind the process, seeing the LAC as a good first start at building a more stable framework for Town and Gown relations. Both Council members, now incumbents running for office, showed little confidence in the process from the start.
Even though I supported UNC’s new effort – praising their success where appropriate – critical when they backslid into old habits – I also kept a close eye towards the eventual product – a master plan for Carolina North.
There were some initial missteps I thought needed some quick attention. One, inattention to the public input. Two, a missing commitment to measure the environmental baseline of Carolina North.
As you can see from this Aug. 24th, 2006 video, as a citizen I appeared before UNC’s LAC calling for a real environmental assay of Carolina North and making substantive improvements in their community outreach.
Finding champion species would help identify critical areas to preserve. Doing a thorough flora and fauna survey would help us establish a baseline to determine if conditions improve or diminish 10, 20 or 50 years out. Committing to measuring off-site air, noise and light pollution impacts could help build confidence in UNC’s commitment to maintaining the neighboring environment throughout our community.
What is different from UNC’s past performance is they actually integrated that criticism into their process and improved upon the overall plan.