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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill, UNC Officials Eager To Start New Era

Town Council member Joyce Brown voted against the UNC Development Plan and said the plan compromises some local residents.

The Development Plan proposes 41 new buildings during the course of eight years -- the first installment of UNC's Master Plan. The town passed the plan after an almost three-month-long negotiation process with University officials.

The town passed the plan with 36 attached stipulations or slight alterations to the University proposal that would act to guard the interests of area residents.

Sen. Howard Lee, D-Orange, said that if the town had rejected the Development Plan then the N.C. General Assembly would have taken steps to address the matter. "We believe the town made a great decision," he said. "I'm delighted that we don't have to go down that road."

Mayor Rosemary Waldorf said the town and UNC were able to reach an agreement on several issues such as noise, light and stormwater drain-off. "I think we've gotten through a very challenging process," she said. "I feel very good today."

Waldorf said she respected the University's decision to promote dialogue with Mason Farm Road residents who might be affected by future construction in the area.

Although not outlined in the eight-year plan, University officials specifically have expressed interest in the Mason Farm area for the construction of a proposed road that would connect South Campus and Fordham Boulevard.

But council member Joyce Brown, the lone dissenter in Wednesday's vote, said she feels the plan compromises area residents. "The University has made it very clear that they wanted to take the homes north of Mason Farm Road," Brown said.

But Roger Waldon, director of the Chapel Hill Planning Department, said the University has no specific plans for development on property that it does not own, which includes a parcel of land on Mason Farm Road.

He said UNC officials will need to prepare and submit individual site development permit applications for the 41 buildings included in the plan.

Waldon said the permits must meet major stipulations for the approval from the council. The buildings must be consistent with the Development Plan and meet acceptable levels of traffic, stormwater, noise and light.

Linda Convissor, University coordinator for local relations, said UNC officials have taken steps to work with residents, specifically regarding concerns about future construction on the Ambulatory Care Center, located at the southern end of campus.

"Residents have expressed concern about operational problems with the existing Ambulatory Care Center about noise and light pollution," she said. "We remain committed to working with the residents. I think it signals a new era in how we work together."

Council member Flicka Bateman said she hopes the plan's approval would serve as a good foundation for town and UNC relations. "I think everybody probably wants to take a few weeks break from it and then, with a renewed spirit of cooperation, continue on."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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