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The Daily Tar Heel

Town Agrees to Lift Cap, Work Out Plan Details

Chapel Hill officials informed University leaders at a meeting Wednesday that they are willing to help UNC meet its needs for the Master Plan by lifting its square footage cap.

Originally, the University had asked that the town remove the cap of about 14 million square feet to make more room for UNC's Master Plan, a blueprint for long-term campus growth.

The new cap will be set at 110 percent of what the University submitted as its capital needs for the next 10 years. Officials estimate the Master Plan will add 5 million more square feet to UNC's existing 13.7 million.

Jonathan Howes, director of the Master Plan, said the new cap comes with strings attached for the University.

"I think it's a genuine effort of the town to meet the University's needs," he said. "On the other hand, it's imposing a new level of control."

The new regulations call for the University to devise a development plan that it will have to submit to the Town Council for approval.

Once UNC submits its development plan and it is approved by the town, UNC will not have to seek special permits for new construction.

Chapel Hill Mayor Rosemary Waldorf presented the town's policy for establishing a new zoning district for areas of UNC at Wednesday's meeting. "We believe it is a framework on how the town and University can work together," she said.

Chancellor James Moeser expressed concern that the policy will constitute more regulations for the University. But he said UNC understands Chapel Hill's desire to impose restrictions. "We recognize the town's concerns over those issues," he said.

Moeser then presented to the committee 12 points that he considered matters of mutual interest between the town and University.

The points included the University's plans to dispose of off-campus properties and place them back on the county's list of taxable land. Moeser stressed the importance of University plans to increase on-campus housing.

"It's in our interests to keep students on campus," he said, explaining that on-campus residents tend to stay more involved in the academic life of the University.

Moeser said he was concerned the town would reject UNC's entire plan because of one minor difference.

Waldorf assured UNC officials that the town would work out any minor problems as opposed to sending back the whole plan to be reviewed.

The town and University agreed to allow Chapel Hill Town Manager Cal Horton, UNC Vice Chancellor Nancy Suttenfield and their staffs to meet to work out the details of the development plan and present their conclusions back to the Town Council and UNC leaders.

The Town Council will be asked to approve this measure at its next meeting.

Moeser urged cooperation between the town and University, emphasizing the importance of working out the fine print. "The devil is in the details."

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