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Master Plan Revisions Concern Chapel Hill Residents

The Board of Trustees will vote Thursday on a version of the Master Plan, a blueprint for campus growth for the next 50 years. The plan could include campus growth onto land now occupied by residents.

The triangle of land where Rees lives, formed by the junctions of Fordham Boulevard, Mason Farm Road and Otey's Road, stands directly in the path of proposed development.

"I believe that the University is interested in obtaining this triangle," Rees said.

But Rees said she thinks that her community is an indispensible part of Chapel Hill.

"This development would destroy a very viable neighborhood that has been here a long time," Rees said. "Out of the eight houses that stand within the triangle, six house residents who have lived here for over 20 years."

Rees said that two of the houses are owned by the University and rented to students, who walk to school. She and her husband also walked to the school, as employees, during their 29-year residence at 503 Otey's Road.

Rees said accessibility to UNC would deteriorate with Master Plan development, creating a gap between school and community.

"I assume that the plan that is presented to the Board of Trustees will be the plan that will show development in the south of campus," she said. But Rees said she isn't sure about the time her house would remain standing, as no residents have seen plans for development phasing.

Rees said she also has concern that the BOT is voting before seeing results of a pending Major Investment Study on transportation being conducted by the N.C. Department of Transportation, Duke University, UNC, the Triangle Transit Authority and Durham and Orange counties.

"It is too bad that they are putting this to a vote before they have any traffic study to see why they need a road or any research on the environmental impact," Rees said.

Diana Steele, who owns a preschool on Mason Farm Road, said she was surprised the BOT was voting before the results of the study. "I think that they will be voting on a plan that they don't know is necessary. They don't have the numbers."

Steele said the plan is very attractive, but without numbers to confirm necessity, it might not have much connection with reality. "I think they may be voting on whether they think that (the plan is) a pretty picture or not, and the pictures are pretty," she said. "I would be impressed if they had the wisdom to wait because it seems foolhardy to rush ahead with unproven plans."

Rees, whose husband will attend the meeting, also said her ties to the property are deep because she raised two sons in her home.

"We have two boys and they are very upset that they may not be coming to this house when they come home," Rees said.

"It's one thing to move away, but this is different. This whole process has had incredible emotional toil on all of us."

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