The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 3rd

Town Studies Options for New Land

The council needs to find a new location for both the Public Works and Transportation departments because of the likelihood that their current University-owned leases will not be renewed.

"As the council well knows, we face difficulty," Town Manager Cal Horton said.

The departments are currently located on the Horace Williams property on Airport Road.

The town rents this land from the University for $1 a year, but this lease expires Dec. 31, 2006.

The University has not agreed to the town's requests to extend the lease for an additional 10 years because UNC plans to develop the land into a research and housing facility.

The failure to obtain an extension has led the town to search for new sites to house both of these municipal operations.

In an 8-1 vote Monday night, the council approved an installment contract for the purchase of a 54-acre parcel of land that is bounded by Eubanks Road, Mill House Road and Interstate 40.

This 54-acre site was selected to house the Public Works Department because it is one of the few large vacant areas in Chapel Hill.

"We were looking at areas that would have enough acreage," council member Jim Ward said.

"They are pretty easy to find because there are not that many left."

Horton said the large area of land is needed to shield residents from the new facility.

"One of the reasons that we need so much land is because we plan on significant buffering," he said.

Ward said he has concerns about the ability of the town to relocate both operations within six years, when the lease expires.

"Under the best circumstances it would be a tight time frame in which to make that move," Ward said.

Council member Kevin Foy said he feels the town probably will not be able to relocate both operations within the six-year time frame, but because this would cause problems for both the town and the University, he feels something can be worked out.

"No transportation system is a problem for the University, as well," Foy said.

"I think that something will be able to be worked out."

Horton said no sites have yet been identified as a possible home for the Department of Transportation.

"We are still searching for a transit site," Horton said.

Council member Pat Evans said there are more options for the Department of Transportation site because of the far-reaching community impact of the transit system.

"We are partners in terms of transportation with Carrboro and the University, and there may be other options of locations for (the Department of Transportation)."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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