Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherfordton, recently proposed "An Act to Resolve Any Controversy Between the Town of Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" to the Senate floor that could entitle the state legislature to make decisions regarding the University's rights for expansion.
The bill is a security measure in case a conclusion is not made between the school and the town. It is a blank bill that was created to meet the bill-filing deadline and will be filled in later with content if the state needs to get involved. "Some type of bill needed to be filed in the event the legislature needs to be involved," Dalton said. "We don't know how this will progress."
He said the current controversy is similar to a parent whose two children are in an argument. "You hope they can reach an agreement on their own, but if they can't, then you step in," Dalton said.
Last month the UNC Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan to add 5 million square feet of building space to the campus, increasing the total to 18.6 million square feet.
But the town of Chapel Hill has a development regulation cap at 14 million square feet, making it impossible for the University to carry out all its expansion proposals until the cap is removed.
Both Dalton and local officials are confident the University and the town will be able to resolve the conflict and that the state will not need to intervene.
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said the University and town have a strong, more than 200 year history and that she is positive they will be able to work together to resolve the conflict.
"We have able people in Chancellor (James) Moeser and Mayor (Rosemary) Waldorf working on the issue," Insko said. "Both have collaboration as a top priority."
On Monday night, the Chapel Hill Town Council met and drafted a response to Moeser's request asking for the University to be exempt from the town's zoning regulations.
The council unanimously approved a statement that allows the University to complete all the bond and housing projects in the time allotted if the school meets community responsibilities.
The town wants the school to assume a larger fiscal responsibility by paying for the cost of its growth, Waldorf said.
"The University exists to serve the state," she said. "It doesn't seem fair that the University not pay the costs that it brings to the local community."
The University will respond to the town's proposal modifications in a meeting April 18, but if both cannot reach an agreement in the near future, the state legislature might possibly become involved under rights given to it by Dalton's act.
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