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The Daily Tar Heel

Council Implements Permit Application Fee

But University officials say the $2,600 price tag is reasonable.

The new site development permit application fee will affect only those areas in Chapel Hill classified as Office/Institutional-4, a zone created by the Town Council on July 2 in response to University demands for more space.

Presently the University is the only entity occupying the OI-4 zone.

This measure came days after the town's Oct. 3 approval of the Development Plan, the University's eight-year plan for growth.

The Development Plan is an early phase of the University's Master Plan, a 50-year blueprint for campus growth, which proposes to add 5.8 million square feet to UNC's current 13.8 million.

Council member Bill Strom said this expansion beyond the 14 million square foot boundary of the OI-3 zone warranted creation of the new OI-4 zone.

Strom said the action is not an attempt by the town to punish the University after the approval of its Development Plan, which many town residents opposed.

"The town has established a principle of recovering the full cost of services for all planning actions taken," he said.

Strom said this principle was established during the 2000-01 council term before the Development Plan existed.

Bruce Runberg, UNC associate vice chancellor for planning and construction, said $2,600 was a reasonable price to pay for UNC's site development permit applications.

"We are not opposed to it," he said. "The price range is approximately what we thought it would be."

Under the Development Plan the University is not required to receive the council's approval for projects included in the plan. Rather, UNC only will be required to submit a site development plan to Town Manager Cal Horton for his signature.

UNC must pay the fee each time it submits a site development permit application, which it will do frequently during the next eight years as it fulfills its Development Plan goals.

Under the plan, South Campus will be expanded along Mason Farm Road and 41 new buildings will be created.

In a memorandum to Mayor Rosemary Waldorf and the council, Horton said the $2,600 fee covers the estimated costs of staff time -- projected at 58 hours per application -- needed to review and process site development permit applications in an OI-4 Zone.

It also includes a 13.55 percent overhead charge, which includes personnel costs.

By placing this fee in the hands of the University, Strom said it will take the financial burden off of Chapel Hill's residents.

"The public should not have to subsidize and pay that cost," he said. "The applicant should pay it."

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

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