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Residents: UNC Officials Hesitant to Compromise

In discussions last week, neighborhood representatives and University officials reached what both regarded as a compromise for a proposed access road between South Campus and Fordham Boulevard.

But the compromise received a lukewarm response from trustees at their Thursday meeting. Last week's discussions between residents and University officials, which generated the compromise, centered on the precise location of the access road connecting South Campus to Fordham Boulevard.

The road is one component of the University's Development Plan, which details campus growth for the next eight years. The Chapel Hill Town Council will vote on the plan Wednesday.

The compromise requires moving the proposed four-lane access road north of a planned graduate student family housing complex on Mason Farm Road.

This is an alternative to the UNC-proposed access road, which would run south of the planned family housing.

The compromise would have the access road run through land already set aside by the Development Plan for potential light rail and bus use.

Residents said they were frustrated by the BOT's perceived unwillingness to consider their alternate proposal.

"The decision, even though it was one without hostility, reflects the fact that we have no input at all. There is no consideration for the neighborhood," said former Chapel Hill Mayor and UNC faculty member Ken Broun.

Broun added he thinks the BOT's stance puts in doubt the effectiveness of future Development Plan conversations between the University and residents.

If the council adopts the stipulations of the compromise, it could put the council into conflict with the BOT's wishes.

Jonathan Howes, special assistant to the chancellor for University relations, characterized the BOT's Thursday discussion on the Mason Farm Road issue as "not hostile or belligerent, a principled discussion that reflected their stewardship feelings toward the University."

Howes explained to residents in the Friday meeting that BOT members said Thursday they wished to leave the access road where originally planned. In this situation, the housing would be better if it was oriented toward campus and not split apart by the access road.

Residents and UNC officials might continue discussions Tuesday morning at the Chapel Hill Town Hall. But Susan Fellner of 1300 Mason Farm Road said she felt -- in light of the BOT's reaction Thursday -- the residents' efforts could be futile. "Here we sat, here we problem-solved, and we were rejected."

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