TO: Mayor and Town Council
FROM: Horace Williams Citizens' Committee (HWCC)
SUBJECT: Comments on UNC January 25, 2006 letter and attachment from Chancellor Moeser to Mayor Foy concerning the HWCC Principles Goals and Strategies Report
DATE: May 10, 2006
The HWCC provides these general observations to the Council about the UNC response
1. The HWCC sincerely thanks Chancellor Moeser for his statement in his February 7, 2006 letter that outlined a process and charge for the Leadership Advisory Committee. “The University enters this process in good faith and with the recognition and understanding that the Town of Chapel Hill has zoning authority over the Carolina North property within its boundaries.”
2. We appreciate UNC’s response to the principles in the HWCC report. The HWCC is delighted that there is substantial agreement between HWCC principles and the UNC response.
3. The HWCC is concerned that UNC will participate in an ad-hoc building process at Carolina North, constructing buildings one at a time as funds become available, but before necessary planning, infrastructure, transit, and environmental needs have been addressed and completed. Every premature building itself imposes constraints on the Horace Williams tract and limits the Carolina North project's ability to be a world-class center of research, education, housing and service to our university, towns, and state. An example of this ad hoc approach is the proposal for a model school site.
4. The UNC response did not comment on any of the specifics underlying the HWCC principles. We suggest that sometime during the Carolina North planning process, that the Carolina North plans be measured against the specific goals and strategies of the HWCC report.
5. The UNC response is silent on any specifics pertaining to the process of continuing engagement and cooperation for our mutual benefit. We are happy however that UNC has formed its Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC) that will further the process.
6. The HWCC report was crafted with several key assumptions. While UNC has responded to the principles developed under these assumptions, its response is silent on whether the assumptions are sound. We hope that the LAC will adopt these principles.
The HWCC provides these specific observations about the UNC response to HWCC
First, we note that many of the responses are general in nature. Second, we anticipate that when the zone for the development is negotiated, the details underlying the agreed on principles will be fleshed out. Third, UNC did not respond to all the principles in the HWCC report.
General Principle number 3: “Both the Town and the University need to recognize that there could very well be a point when the cumulative impacts of University and Town growth on our natural resources and our public facilities are such that no amount of mitigation would be possible and still retain the charm of the Town and the quality of life which both the citizens of the Town and the State of North Carolina expect from Chapel Hill.”
Development Management Principle number 1: “Manage development of Carolina North to minimize impacts on neighborhoods and the environment.”
Neighborhood/Community Interface Principle number 1: “Planning for Carolina North shall address community needs for housing, schools, and other facilities.”
Fiscal Equity Principle number 1: “The University or State or Carolina North tenants shall bear the cost of Town services required by Carolina North so that Town residents do not subsidize those uses through their local taxes. The Carolina North development shall be either revenue positive or revenue neutral for the Town.”
Water and Sewer / Stormwater Management /Air Quality Principle number 3: “Ensure that Carolina North has no negative impact on the air quality of Chapel Hill.”
Natural Areas / Parks and Recreational Facilities principle 1: “Preserve in perpetuity the maximum amount of open space possible with a goal of preserving 75% of the Horace Williams property as stated by the University.”
Natural Areas / Parks and Recreational Facilities principle 3: “Conduct and maintain an inventory of natural resources and use it as a guide for planning and development.”
Natural Areas / Parks and Recreational Facilities principle 4: “Follow sustainable site design principles and goals.”
Transportation and Land Use Principle number 1: “Carolina North will create minimal impact on traffic and will promote commuter safety. The Transportation Plan will be developed around a transit system including use of Chapel Hill Transit rather than single occupancy motor vehicles.”
UNC’s participation in Chapel Hill Transit is invaluable. We hope and expect that their commitment to reducing single-occupancy car use at Carolina North equals their commitment to Chapel Hill Transit. However the UNC response here is vague, promising only to study the issue and balance it against near-term realities. We therefore anticipate a transportation plan to be in place before development plans for Carolina North are submitted. This is essential if Carolina North is in fact to be a transit-oriented development. We believe that parking must be substantially restricted to levels of the main campus or lower.
We welcome the joint commitment by UNC, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro to launch a major transportation study of the impacts of Carolina North on northern Chapel Hill and the towns as a whole by the summer 2006 and complete it by summer, 2007.
Transportation and Land Use Principle number 3: “Retain existing zoning of OI-2 and rezone balance of property OI-2. Engage University officials in dialogue about the regulatory approach to the Horace Williams tract at the early stages of planning for Carolina North.”