The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

By Emily Drum

Staff Writer

The University has taken another important step on the road to making its Master Plan come to life.

UNC submitted its Development Plan for campus expansion to the Chapel Hill Town Council on July 5. The town has 90 days to review the inch-thick document, and will vote on it in October.

The plan includes not only building plans, but also solutions for traffic patterns, environmental issues, town noise ordinances, storm-water management, public utilities, pedestrian circulation and historic districts.

The Development Plan comes on top of the town's July 2 approval of UNC's rezoning proposal, which places the University in a new Office/Institutional-4 zoning district.

The new district does not cap the amount of square footage that the University can develop. UNC's previous OI-3 district limited it to 14 million square feet. The University now occupies 13.6 million square feet and seeks to add approximately 5.9 million square feet as part of the Master Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in March.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Bruce Runberg said that all of the buildings outlined in the Development Plan meet the requirements in the Master Plan.

"Clearly, it's an all-inclusive plan and an integrative plan," Runberg said. "We basically don't have any projects in there that are unnecessary."

Provost Robert Shelton said it is necessary to look at the long run to make growth a positive experience for both the University and the town.

"We're coming to them with the whole picture," he said. "(The Development Plan) is truth in advertising."

Shelton added that, if planned well, UNC's expansion can benefit Chapel Hill. He said the town will gain additional income from projected increases in student enrollment.

But Special Assistant to the Chancellor Jonathan Howes said those students will need somewhere to live.

"I suppose the most urgent problem is increasing housing on campus," Howes said. "That is the issue that is most challenging for the town."

The increase in population will increase traffic, and the Development Plan covers the transportation issue at length.

According to the plan, the University intends to replace surface parking with underground parking and above-ground decks. UNC also hopes to increase use of alternative modes of transportation, such as mass transit, bicycling, ride-sharing and walking. On-campus residents will lose parking, and the plan estimates that 2,715 commuters will need to find alternate modes of transport.

Chancellor James Moeser said the town had input into the creation of the Development Plan to address transportation concerns, as well as other issues at stake for Chapel Hill residents as the University grows.

"This was done in close consultation with town staff in the past few weeks," Moeser said. "It's not just for us. It's for the public good."

Runberg said the University has already made concessions to the town. He also said he expects more public input in the future. "I'm sure we're going to get a lot of suggestions, complaints and ideas," he said.

Student Body Vice President Rudy Kleysteuber said he thinks planners have done a good job of considering town concerns so far.

"The state is growing," he said. "We can't help that. We obviously want to maintain the caliber of our education."

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

But junior Jesse Davidson of Statesville said he does not want to see an increase in the student number.

"I just hope that the Master Plan doesn't overshadow students and doesn't overshadow the fact that we are here to get an education," he said.

In essence, the Development Plan is a look at the steps that the University will take to ease its growth into Chapel Hill as the Master Plan becomes a reality.

Moeser said that because of the plan's comprehensive nature, no one part is more important than another. "This is the roadmap for the future for us."

Emily Drum can be reached

at edrum@email.unc.edu.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Year in Review Issue