The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

Plans for Horace Williams Tract Move Forward

Carrboro, Chapel Hill and UNC officials plan to work together.

Carolina North -- a research, commercial and residential community just two miles down the road from campus -- is still in the early planning stages. The campus, which will be completed within the next 20 to 50 years, will be situated on 892 acres off Airport Road and Estes Drive, which bridges Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

The executive committee that will make all of the decisions concerning Carolina North includes Chancellor James Moeser; Provost Robert Shelton; Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research; Susan Ehringhaus, senior University counsel; and Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

The executive committee will oversee several working committees that will be carefully crafted to include a mix of students, residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and local government.

The tentative list of officials and citizens on the committee includes Orange County Commissioners Barry Jacobs and Margaret Brown, Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson, Carrboro Alderman Diana McDuffee, Chapel Hill Town Council members Jim Ward and Flicka Bateman and Chapel Hill residents Cam Hill and Ruby Sinreich.

After the committees are finalized, the project will have to pass various approvals in accordance with the two towns' laws, including zoning of the property for both residential and commercial use.

Waldrop said the facility is an extension of the University and its mission to become a leading school in the nation.

"We look at it as a place that enhances the mission of the University," Waldrop said. "It will involve graduate and undergraduate studies, partnerships with state agencies and involvement with public service."

Waldrop said the next step is to finalize the names on the list -- Carrboro must still pick two citizens to serve -- and have a meeting to discuss key issues surrounding the project.

Nelson said there is potential for the development of Carolina North to have a tremendous impact on Carrboro.

"We are concerned about the degree of change in the quality of life in Carrboro," Nelson said. "The potential impacts on the citizens are traffic congestion, environmental degradation of areas like Bolin Creek and the cost of services for the new people this facility will attract."

Brown said the construction of Carolina North will have a significant impact on the county as a whole.

"This project really can't just be plopped down into the existing community," Brown said. "Any good planner is going to take into consideration the infrastructure needed to support a project this size, including new schools for the residential areas and the traffic issues."

Brown also said the most important part of the project at this time is cooperation between all of the parties involved to plan for the future.

"It is very important that all of us work together because if we don't plan, the impact will become problems," Brown said. "But if we work on the issues now, we can prevent those problems."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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