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Commissioners Upset Over Role in UNC Plan

The Orange County commissioners will have a chance to air their concerns about UNC's blueprint for campus growth tonight at the Southern Human Services Center. University officials will present their plan to the commissioners.

"We have tried to get them to show us the Master Plan, but they have postponed it," said Commissioner Margaret Brown. "They have not asked us to be involved."

But Nancy Suttenfield, UNC's vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the University did not intend to slight the commissioners.

"This is just one in a series of local governments," Suttenfield said.

This will be the first meeting with University officials and the commissioners concerning development.

"We're presenting the Master Plan in a number of venues and we're about halfway through," Suttenfield said. "We started in January or February, and it just depended on when we could get on the calendar."

Suttenfield also said UNC officials have made presentations concerning the Horace Williams tract to the Chapel Hill Town Council, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, local school boards and to groups on campus. "It provides an opportunity for people to ask questions and make suggestions," she said.

Brown said she hopes this meeting will establish communication between campus leaders and county officials.

"I would hope that we would start a dialogue with them about the infrastructure and long-term planning for the county," she said. "We need to be a part of this."

Brown also said she hopes that county's involvement in the plan will be equal to that of the Chapel Hill Town Council. Some members of the council, along with University officials, serve on the town-gown committee.

But Suttenfield said the meeting is designed to keep the county aware of what is going on. "It's really to keep them informed," she said.

Suttenfield said the officials do not see a reason for the commissioners to be involved in a committee similar to Chapel Hill's town-gown committee.

"Thus far, there really hasn't been a need for a group of that kind for the county," she said.

But Suttenfield said she felt the commissioners would be receptive to the information UNC officials will provide.

"They accepted our invitation, so I'm sure they'll be interested in what we have to say," Suttenfield said.

Suttenfield said that because the Horace Williams tract is located in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, she foresees that Chapel Hill and Carrboro officials will play a greater role in development than the commissioners.

But Brown said she disagrees. She said Orange County is a part of the community and should be involved in the process as well. "They don't lie in an isolated box there at the University," she said. They do have effects and impacts on the community."

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