The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 28th

Hearing for Development Plan Tonight

University officials plan to ask for changes to the development permit for the area near the Smith Center.

The hearing is slated to begin at 7 p.m. at the Chapel Hill Town Hall.

All aspects of the Development Plan, which details campus growth for the next eight years, will be open for discussion. The plan is a part of Master Plan, a 50-year blueprint for growth.

Jonathan Howes, special assistant to the chancellor for University relations, will present the Development Plan and answer questions residents might have.

Howes said he expects resistance over an affidavit the University filed Friday, requesting that it be released from zoning restrictions at the Smith Center.

"We have asked the town to vacate the special-use permit," he said.

Under a special-use permit approved in 1980, the University must provide a vegetative buffer between the Smith Center and the Mason Farm Road neighborhood.

But, according to the University's affidavit, a proposed student family housing complex at the southern perimeter of campus will "provide an equally effective buffer" between the Smith Center and the Mason Farm Road neighborhood.

Howes said the type of housing proposed will blend in well with the neighborhood. "Our position is that circumstances have changed since that permit was adopted," he said. "We expect resistance."

Council members also have flagged the Mason Farm issue as a likely point of debate.

The meeting likely will address other issues stemming from the Mason Farm debate.

Howes said the University has been under considerable pressure from the community to provide adequate student housing to relieve housing pressures in Chapel Hill.

Student Body President Justin Young, who will be sending two delegates from student government to the hearing, said that without adequate on-campus student housing, town residents could experience inflated prices.

"It's a lot easier for a landlord to charge $2,000 (a month) in rent because it's split five ways but harder for a single family to pay this," he said. "It's important to get the student perspectives out there."

Council member Joyce Brown also said she wants a more thorough examination of transportation issues discussed under the University's Development Plan. She said the proposed transportation plan is based on outdated statistics.

Although UNC officials have promised to provide updated statistics by December, Brown said a clearer understanding is needed before the council can vote.

The City Editor can be reached


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