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The Daily Tar Heel

Council Approves Rezoning

In an 8-1 vote, the council adopted a new Office/Institutional-4 zoning district. In a separate 8-1 vote, the council moved to rezone UNC, placing it in the newly created district. Councilwoman Joyce Brown cast the lone dissenting vote in both measures.

"The new ordinance has the potential to be much better," she said. "I think there are some gaps."

The OI-4 zoning frees the University from the 14 million-square-foot floor-area limit that restricts UNC in its present OI-3 zoning. The University already occupies 13.6 million square feet, but seeks to add an additional 5.8 million under its Master Plan.

Most of the growth is planned for a large housing expansion to accommodate a projected increase in enrollment. The expansion focuses on the southern part of campus, where the University plans to build additional undergraduate and student family housing.

These units will eventually replace the Odum Village apartments and enable for more undergraduate housing to be built.

University officials made several compromises from their original proposal by eliminating some of the tracts they had initially submitted for rezoning.

Originally, the University requested all of the property on the main campus be rezoned. The town then divided the area into nine separate tracts.

After several town-gown meetings and a heated public hearing, the University's nine-tract proposal was scaled back to four.

"The University has tried very hard to be responsive to community concerns," said Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor for finance and administration. "We urgently need to move ahead with the next step of our partnership."

The next step comes with the submission of the University's development plan. The plan was supposed to be submitted Tuesday, but due to problems with the electronic map files, the half-inch-thick document is now expected to be filed today.

The development plan addresses issues such as the general location and size of planned development and allows the town to examine issues they haven't been able to look at in the past.

"We have a greater opportunity than we've ever had before to look into a broader plan and look into these various elements," said council member Jim Ward.

The development plan must include anticipated effects on traffic and a noise, lighting and stormwater runoff analysis. This will offer the town an opportunity to further monitor the University's growth and its impact on the community.

"The development plan is a significant opportunity for the council to -- on a finer scale -- address the concerns brought up by town citizens," Ward said.

Although the rezoning passed overwhelmingly with an 8-1 vote, several council members expressed sorrow as they cast their affirmative votes.

"My vote comes without any joy and without any enthusiasm," said Flicka Bateman as she cast her vote in favor of the rezoning.

Ward said he had similar sentiments. "I sympathize with the people who live along Mason Farm Road," he said Tuesday. "I don't expect them to applaud our decision. I just hope they understand the efforts that went into it."

Some expressed the poor timing of such an influential decision, however.

"Rezoning means the town will have to review the development plan over the summer," said Ruby Sinreich, town resident. "This is the wrong time to make such a huge decision."

The town will have 90 days to review the development plan and is expected to vote on the plan in early October.

Waldorf said Tuesday that the University's expansion was almost inevitable.

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"It's clear ... that the town cannot stand in the way of the University's growth," Waldorf said. "We have to permit their growth, but we also supervise their growth."

Matt Viser can be reached at

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