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.

Carolina North: Chancellor Hooker Friday, December 8, 1995

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I’ve recently been reviewing some of my old links covering the evolution of UNC’s Carolina North development.

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Next Exit: UNC

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

The construction of a special I-40 interchange for Carolina North has been a persistent rumor.

Over the last 5 years, I heard UNC officially deny any such plan more than a dozen times. The last time for me, I believe, was when UNC’s liason to the Horace Williams Citizen’s Committee (HWCC) said she hadn’t heard anything about it.

According to Emily Coakley and Rob Shapard in today’s HeraldSun “Local officials say they’ve heard UNC might pursue a new interchange on Interstate 40 to serve the planned Carolina North research campus.”

Why worry if it’s just a rumor?

Well, I, as I’m sure other local longtime residents, remember a few trial UNC balloons that eventually became reality. Sometimes, it seems, the more outrageous, the more likely.

Creating an I-40 interchange and subsequent transit corridor near burgeoning neighborhoods and sensitive ecological preserves seems fairly outrageous. With the recent wildcard resolution by UNC’s Board of Trustees, a group that appears to be “chafing at the bit” for substantive action on Carolina, it’s not too difficult to imagine that there’s more substance to this I-40 rumor than in years past. That, of course, and it’s almost Summer – when the public is generally distracted – a time when UNC traditionally unleashes problematic proposals.

The now defunct HWCC has been following the transit-related discussions on Carolina North and, in their January memo, sketched out further particpation. I’m sure we would have been privy to UNC’s thoughts on a I-40 interchange.

Now, we’ll have to rely on the press and our local elected officials for adequate forewarning.

Carolina North and the Education of Mayor Foy

Friday, May 26th, 2006

As I noted in Chafing: Prevention and Treatment, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has always been a wildcard in the potentially disastrous development of Carolina North.

Yesterday’s meeting unsettled Mayor Foy, at least enough for him to defend the initial delay in Carolina North’s Leadership Advisory Committee’s getting to substantive discussions.

Foy observed:

You can’t put together a couple dozen people, tell them to set their own work process, and then complain when it takes time to set that up

Hey, that sounds familiar!

In fact, it echoes my statement to Council on April 11th – a concern the Mayor breezily dismissed.

That night, except for Council member Easthom, the Council quickly dispensed with our Town’s “couple of dozen” of citizens who were dedicated to fleshing out the principles [pdf] underpinning the Leadership Advisory Council’s current discussions – principles they developed.

Easthom, who deftly defended citizen input, wisely foresaw the long term necessity of keeping a citizen-owned institution around to help Council respond to the next 12 months of UNC’s Carolina North discussions.

In the last Horace-Williams Citizens Committee meeting, I suggested, once again,

We remind the Council of the scope of work proposed by the HWCC in January and suggest that the Council recognize the necessary lead time required to reconstitute a citizen’s group to explore the issues in that proposal.

With the accelerated schedule demanded yesterday by the UNC BOT, the Mayor’s claim “mission accomplished” seems not only quite premature but also quite precipitous.

The good news is it’s not too late to reconstitute a citizen’s group, like the Horace Williams Citizen’s Committee, to help respond to BOT’s challenge.

HWCC:Response to Chancellor Moeser’s January 25th Letter on Carolina North

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Here’s the HWCC’s (Horace Williams Citizen’s Committee) response to Chancellor Moeser’s January 25th Letter on Carolina North development.

I drafted the original response, which was further refined by myself and Joe Capowski and finally tightened up and approved by the whole of the HWCC.

MEMORANDUM

SUBJECT: Comments on UNC January 25, 2006 letter and attachment from Chancellor Moeser to Mayor Foy concerning the HWCC Principles Goals and Strategies Report

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

The HWCC provides these general observations to the Council about the UNC response

1. The HWCC sincerely thanks Chancellor Moeser for his statement in his February 7, 2006 letter that outlined a process and charge for the Leadership Advisory Committee. “The University enters this process in good faith and with the recognition and understanding that the Town of Chapel Hill has zoning authority over the Carolina North property within its boundaries.”

2. We appreciate UNC’s response to the principles in the HWCC report. The HWCC is delighted that there is substantial agreement between HWCC principles and the UNC response.

3. The HWCC is concerned that UNC will participate in an ad-hoc building process at Carolina North, constructing buildings one at a time as funds become available, but before necessary planning, infrastructure, transit, and environmental needs have been addressed and completed. Every premature building itself imposes constraints on the Horace Williams tract and limits the Carolina North project’s ability to be a world-class center of research, education, housing and service to our university, towns, and state. An example of this ad hoc approach is the proposal for a model school site.

4. The UNC response did not comment on any of the specifics underlying the HWCC principles. We suggest that sometime during the Carolina North planning process, that the Carolina North plans be measured against the specific goals and strategies of the HWCC report.

5. The UNC response is silent on any specifics pertaining to the process of continuing engagement and cooperation for our mutual benefit. We are happy however that UNC has formed its Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC) that will further the process.

6. The HWCC report was crafted with several key assumptions. While UNC has responded to the principles developed under these assumptions, its response is silent on whether the assumptions are sound. We hope that the LAC will adopt these principles.

SPECIFIC OBSERVATIONS

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Mission Accomplished?

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Mayor Foy:

Having completed their missions, I petition the Council that we thank all existing and former committee members for their dedication and public service, and that we now conclude the service of the Technology and Horace Williams Citizens Committees, effective June 30, 2006.

Since yesterday’s 8 to 1 vote to dissolve the Horace-Williams Citizens’ Committee , I’ve heard from 7 HWCC members expressing from mild to strong dissent with the decision.

The common theme? More work to be done.

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