Cam Hill's take on Carolina North

Cam Hill asked me to post his guest column in the Herald today about Carolina North:

For several years UNC has been talking about developing a research campus, Carolina North, which is slated to contain as many as eight million square feet of buildings. UNC owns the Horace Williams tract, some 900 acres that currently is the home of the Horace Williams Airport, a couple of toxic dump sites and the old town of Chapel Hill public works and transit facility locations. UNC wants to put Carolina North there. Because the property is largely undeveloped (with the above exceptions), surrounded by existing neighborhoods and not served by any existing (or planned) transit or large-scale utility infrastructure, and because this is Chapel Hill; there has been some considerable discussion about this. Oh yeah, and the airport is still open.

On June 14th a joint group of state representatives and senators heard testimony from the AHEC doctors about how they felt about closing Horace Williams Airport (which is the legislature's decision). The NC Area Health Education Centers is a program that flies doctors around the state to treat patients in their hometowns. The doctors were concerned that if they had to fly out of RDU instead of HWA it would take too much time and many would be forced to reconsider their participation in the program. Within that hearing room last Thursday the AHEC doctors certainly presented a compelling case that the airport serves the needs of North Carolinians in a way that Carolina North does not. Admittedly what happened in that room may be of no consequence given the way that decisions are made in Raleigh.

After six years of discussions UNC stands firm in certain aspects of their vision for Carolina North. They still want one parking space per employee, this in spite of the fact that this will almost certainly undermine any chance of the success of public transit (if you can park, you will take your car). After lots of wrangling about the transit study, it is finally underway but the initial planning for the site will be done before the results of the study are complete. Ditto the Fiscal Equity study. These foundational studies were meant to inform the planning but it is hard to see how they can, given their timing. Transit is a big issue; if access to CN is not handled thoughtfully it will be disastrous for the community. On other big issues UNC has done a lot to raise the level of greenhouse gases emanating from Chapel Hill but made no firm commitments. They steadfastly refuse to protect the undeveloped portion of the HW tract in perpetuity. On the issues of providing housing and other living amenities many of us deem necessary for the project, UNC has made only reluctant provisions and no real commitments. All along this has been billed as a research campus and then suddenly in May it became an overflow campus with only about twenty percent of its square footage slated for research. Starting sometime last winter, patient care became one of the activities slated for CN. This was never discussed anywhere before. The one thing that seems fixed is that the trustees will get a plan in July and it will come before the town council for concept review in October.

So, if it must be built, I say build it somewhere else (preferably in eastern NC, which can use the investment and jobs); like on the east side of town. It would be a lot easier to move Finley Golf Course than to move the airport. Finley is adjacent to the Friday Center and if you add the two properties and the other property that UNC owns contiguous to these two I suspect it come out well in excess of the 250 acres that the first fifty years of CN will supposedly require. This location is closer to I-40 and 15-501/54 the primary entries into and out of town. The Triangle Transit Authority has located future rail line stops at Meadowmont and behind the current University Motor Inn slated to become “54 East”, a large multi unit dense housing project. So the transit and access problems would be easier to solve. The housing and retail infrastructure is already in place at Meadowmont, 54 East and Glen Lennox. So those jobs that UNC doesn't want would be done for them. OWASA's sewage treatment plant is right there so the grey water reuse infrastructure is close by. Maybe turning Glenwood Elementary into the “First School” would make the idea affordable, where building it from scratch at Horace Williams was not. UNC owns other properties in the area that would make their presence on that side of town more synergistic. Basically, the campus could overflow right down the hill to Finley.

As to Finley, a new golf course could be built adjacent to the airport. The amount of traffic it would attract would be insignificant. When the airport is finally closed that land could be reclaimed or put to low impact recreational use more suitable to that part of town. We could restrict the development of the Horace Williams site to a minimum, which would really leave a legacy we would all be proud of.


J. Nicholls: Yes I do!

George C: And don't you think actions like that should be questioned by his constituents...and that he should answer for them?

If Mr. Hackney chooses to make questionable choices, how can we be sure he is really acting on our behalf and not that of his friends and/or political allies?

Bob Epting and I served together on the Chancellor's Airport Advisory Committee for a few years. He is the epitome of integrity and honesty. His position on closing HWA is well known and was made very clear long before his law partner became Speaker. I have a lot of trust and confidence in both men and therefore, I am not as concerned about this relationship as others might be.

Somewhere in the archives here you will find a statement Imade after Chancellor Moeser anounced the plan to close HWA: "Don't be too sure it will ever happen!"

J Nicholls,
Before we condemn Speaker Hackney I think we'd need to be provided more information about the AHEC hearings. My understanding is that the hearings were jointly held by the House and Senate. It is entirely possible that Speaker Hackney called the hearings in his role as Speaker and at the request of the Senate leadership. I don't have enough details at this point to make a judgment as to the appropriateness of Speaker Hackney's actions regarding this issue.

IMHO, it may only be a matter of time till something like this happens at HWA...

Check out " - Small Plane Crashes Into Homes - Five Dead"

Or go to:

George C. & Fred - Thanks for the insights, I stand corrected. I didn't mean to condemn Mr. Epting or Rep. Hackney, just trying to sort through the complex details of this issue.

On a more on-subject note: Does anyone know of any private businesses or services that use Horace Williams Airport and are, as Mr. Hotelling claims, "important to the local economy?"

This is part of a comment I have pending, but maybe this is part of the $$$ figure:

2)UNC physicians and the AHEC programs own figures tell us that its air program produces $95 million annually in billings through UNC Hospitals.
Most of these are billed to patients referred to Chapel Hill from the statewide remote clinics where the doctors visit. UNC health care pros treat over 15,000 patients each year through the AHEC air programs. A number of UNC doctors, PhDs and nurses who want to testify to legislators about the impact of an airport closure on their patients say that they will simply be unable to see patients in AHEC clinics and carry their normal Chapel Hill workload as well. UNCs lobbyists and Chancellor James Moeser have been unwilling to allow the public and the legislators to hear from these doctors (and from patients with the most to lose).


WillR: I'm not talking about UNC $$$ - I'm talking about all the "private air traffic" that airport proponents keep telling us is "important to the local economy."

I was watching live coverage of the crash on CNN today recalling this thread I thought: surely someone would not use this crash as a reason to close HWA. Statistics in regards to airline travel are clear - it is far safer to fly in an airplane than it is to drive across town in your automobile. Considering the estimates surrounding the parking / land use for Carolina North I think we would all be better off with more Airplanes and no Carolina North.

Using the Chicken Little defense to argue for closing the airport is ludicrous. Golf course, no golf course, HWA or no HWA - the land the airport sits on and the land surrounding it needs to be preserved. Cam may have been speaking sarcastically in regards to putting a golf course on the airport grounds and moving CN to the current Finely location but in my opinion it makes sense. From a transportation /infrastructure standpoint and from a preservation standpoint it makes sense, but only if the surrounding forest area is protected in perpetuity.

This thread has denigrated into a polarizing debate in regards of closing or not closing the HWA rather than a meaningful discussion relating to Carolina North. Can we please get back on topic.

Anyone have the stats on how many AHEC air passengers
are actually health professionals on a bona fide health
educational or clinical trip, and how many are
UNC administrators, sports coaches on recruiting
trips, and other non-AHEC-related UNC employees?

If I remember correctly, according to a study conducted for UNC a few years ago, slightly less than 20% of MedAir flights out of HWA were actually for transporting medical professionals on AHEC-related business. The other 80% of flights were non health-related trips.

If anyone needs any reminding just how powerful the private pilot lobby group for Horace Williams Airport is, check this article out about former House Speaker Jim Black:

Re: long quote in Will's post on "AHEC air services income." What is the date of that, or is it your own re-cap?

In any case, be wary of that particular set of dollar stats, given that $95 mill is a lot of income just for one department of a hospital/univ. med. center, and I suspect that figure encompasses quite a bit more than patients ferried by plane to Chapel Hill. Indeed: "Most of these are billed to patients referred to Chapel Hill from the statewide remote clinics where the doctors visit." Those patients are referred to Chapel Hill AND Duke and many other places, and they would be regardless of how the visiting docs (from CH and other hospitals) arrived at the outreach clinics. And remember, the UNC system includes more facilities than just those at Chapel Hill.

This business of doctors claiming "they will simply be unable to see patients in AHEC clinics and carry their normal Chapel Hill workload as well" is questionable, too. For one thing, if the 1/2 hr. extra to get to RDU is the deal-breaker, what must they do in bad weather? In most cases, if a flight is canceled (and AHEC air ops has a great safety record because they don't fly if there's any question about the weather), they go by van. For another, the time spent in outreach clinics commonly adds up to an entire day, not an hour here and an hour there. And remember that there are a bunch of docs who don't start at UNC -- for Dookies, it's about even timewise between HWA and RDU; for those at Charlotte or Wake? Well, obviously keeping the AHEC planes at HWA is irrelevent to them.

About the "contribution" of general aviation to "the local economy": This is part of the standard "Save All Airports" PR pitch -- members of organizations of AOPA and the like are instructed to remind communities that general aviation is an economic asset, in terms of such things -- I suppose -- income from aviation support (fuel, etc.) and patronage by pilots of local business and attractiveness to transient traffic (who usually just refuel and leave).

The implication is supposed to be that Chapel Hill's economy will take a big hit if HWA closes.

Priscilla, this was from an email sent to the RVSouthEast-List Digest Archive Thu 05/25/06.

I tried to post the whole spiel but the formatting torqued Ruby's OP styled comments.

The email was from Chris Hudson reiterating, nearly verbatim, the arguments made the previous 9 or so years. The quote I provided was from the HWA status report.

Here's another breathless snippet from Chris:

Your comments to legislators by Saturday, June 10 will continue to change this issue in favor of airport survival. The legislative leadership will take this up if they hear from enough people concerned with the losses to the state's healthcare and aviation system which would follow closure......and we may have no other way to save this historic airport - 78 years old (1928) this year. Let's help ol' Horace Williams get to 80 and all the way to her centennial a few years out!!!

FWIW, I like planes and airports.

As a kid in OK I used to bike 10 miles (one way) to a small airport used mainly for crop dusters, parachutists and private pilots just to get a taste of flight (and occasionally bum a ride). I was absolutely fascinated with flying and all things aeronautical (that was back in the days when kids dreamed of space and becoming astronauts).

My sister is a pilot and I it's a skill on my lifetime TODO list I want to acquire. I've lived around HWA for more than 15 years and used to take our son, even as a little tot, on walks to watch the planes takeoff or chat with visiting pilots so I understand why the AOPA guys are so keen to keep it open.

That said, the AHEC analysis should be ground in fact. Further, the HWA issue reveals not just a failure by UNC to manage expectations but a failure by our local leadership to accommodate a known hazard. Of course, that's spilt milk and we need to negotiate our way forward.

Joe, AHEC is a tightly run ship certainly not providing cab service to athletic coaches and UNC administrators.

Priscilla, AHEC does not ferry patients to Chapel Hill. Nor does it serve, as you point out, medical emergencies. The physicians' and health educators' flights to Area Health Education Centers are scheduled months in advance. The $95 mil figure is outlandishly high for basic air operations, even if the figure includes every dollar HWA costs the university per annum or total to date. Somebody's having fun with numbers and yes, we should be wary.

My personal experience of Horace Williams Airport harks back to the early 90's when the Chapel Hill Flying Club was a source of flight instructors. A couple of crashes there involved student pilots before that organization got evicted. HWA is very hard to target from the air. For touch-and-go and stalling practice, one flew to Person County (Rougemont) or another forgiving airport surrounded by fields and handy landmarks. I took flying lessons out of Person ... a great experience up to the point where survival instincts took over. I solo'd three times over open fields.

Yo Will, the first flying lesson is always FREE and you fly the plane off the runway. The instructor assists with first
landing. After that you have to rent the plane and pay the instructor. The checkbook gets a workout.

It bugs me that AHEC is having to speak/fight for HWA access. UNC alumni and VIP's fly in for sports events and homecoming and spend money while they're here, but not enough to make an economic difference. AHEC's mission has nothing to do with the local economy.

My own FWIW: I love planes and airports myself, which would astonish the various save-HWA people (especially those who have taken it on themselves to indicate their displeasure with me personally). My father was an engineer on the B-58, and he used to take us all out to Logan Airport on Sundays to watch the "new" transatlantic flights, as well as the other traffic. We'd also go to Bedford AFB for various air shows, and later I took my son to airports and air shows when he was growing up. He's even taken flying lessons (not here, in Seattle) until he found he has the same lousy balance problem I have. My brother's a pilot, my brother-in-law flew transports to/from Vietnam and worked on the space shuttle cockpit. Flying's great, so long as it doesn't become the supreme justification for over-riding all other rights, obligations or considerations.

That said: Horace Williams is just in the wrong place now (yes, I know it was there first...), and the arguments to keep it open "fly in the face" (sorry -- I can never resist a bad pun) of common sense regarding the legal, economic, and ethical responsibilities. Also, compared to the other airports I've lived near (including a Naval Air Station), the practices of some HWA users have sometimes been irresponsible and thoughtless, and sometimes with the tacit or overt consent of the University.

And I certainly agree that using AHEC as the wedge argument here is a cynical strategy, obscuring whose interests are really at work. However, there would inevitably be some overlap of interests if it turns out that some of the local AHEC advocates are themselves private pilots.

I believe the plane in Florida was trying to make an emergency landing at Orlando's Sanford Intl Airport. It wasn't even headed to that aiport originally. So comparing that tragedy to the risk of HWA is not accurate at all. It's more analogous to arguing for closing RDU or Charlotte.

Regardless, I still say that the risk of accident at HWA is miniscule compared to the risks of anyone driving a car anywhere or even getting hit by a bus. I just don't agree that the airport is particularly unsafe and I don't think any facts would back that up. Planes just don't crash very often at all, in comparison to the many other risks we take every day. But every plane crash makes big news.

People may not like having an airport in town, but I don't see any evidence that safety is a sound reason to close it. A better argument, to me, is that this airport is not the highest and best use of this land for the biggest number of people. Which leads straight into CN and is why Moeser has tried to close the airport. I wonder if supporting HWA isn't a more effective way to shrink CN, if that might be one's goal.

"I wonder if supporting HWA isn't a more effective way to shrink CN, if that might be one's goal."

IMO, putting CN next to the airport would mean even more waste of undeveloped land.

Does anyone know what FAA safety guidelines are for building close to an airport?

Comparing air crash to car crash statistics is one of those old shibboleths that really don't help in actual community planning. The odds against being killed, for example, in that one house in Sanford Fl were enormous, and the odds against two planes going down in the vicinity of Orlando higher within a few days of each other even higher in the absence of another variable. Nonetheless, it happened.

And the community and/or personal consequences of any given car crash aren't exactly parallel to those of a plane crash.

Moreover, you can use history to prove or disprove anything here: HWA's history includes several crashes in the vicinity but that doesn't mean there will be one tomorrow. At the same time, had there been none, that would not prove that there never would be a crash in the future.

But perhaps more persuasive, or at least relevant, is the question of insurance and legal liability. FAA guidelines, which are not regs btw, recommend not building certain kinds of buildings within several thousand feet of a working runway, but they are not binding. However, coupled with that history of crashes, they form the basis for a pretty serious lawsuit if something did happen, WHICH MEANS that liability insurance could be substantial or even prohibitive.

In addition, potential occupants with research interests have already told the univ. that building to insulate against vibrations from the planes will be too costly to be attractive.

Otherwise, this idea of using the airport to fend off CN is misguided if what you're trying to do is keep CN green -- there's a lot of concrete in a runway and taxiways, and if you don't build there, you still have to build somewhere else, eating into the greenspace somewhere else.


About keeping the airport as part of CN -- aside from issues noted above plus nuisance from increased air traffice, etc.:

It's somewhat senseless to be talking -- as all of us are -- about CN as a totality, since most of the plans we've seen are of what can only be called an imaginary CN completed decades in the future. The more immediate question is, of course, whether there's money, will, and authorization to break ground in the next couple of years -- and if so, where to break ground first.

If the university is directed not to close HWA, the next question is whether they will adjust plans and break ground elsewhere. Clearly, there are those who believe or hope, as Cam seems to, that telling the univ. to keep HWA open would effectively kill CN. But as David suggests, there are economic incentives to using the HW tract for something valuable to the univ. So the impetus to break ground somewhere would still be there.

If the airport remains, therefore, it is logical to think the focus/locus of a different CN would be to the north toward Homestead. I suspect that change would, shall we say, change the vectors of protest.

curses - my long and possibly well-reasoned post just got lost when I forgot to use the spam protection match. So, quickly condensed - Is it better environmentally to scrap an exisiting airport and lay downt the concrete somewhere else or to keep the existing airport?

I stand by my assertion that safety at the airport is overblown - shibboleth or not (if somone can define that for me I'd appreciate it... :) ). Building and noise regulations near airports seem legitimate concerns.

Priscilla's addendum about changing vectors of protest if CN changes locations raises interesting questions about NIMBYism versus community concerns and when and what is the distinction. Definitely a hard call.

"Is it better environmentally to scrap an exisiting airport and lay downt the concrete somewhere else or to keep the existing airport? "

The point is that by scrapping an existing airport, you get to "lay down the concrete" for CN where there already was concrete, permitting you to limit how much more greenspace you have to invade to develop the rest of CN.

Or were you talking about "scrapping an existing airport" only to move it to a new location?

Otherwise, safety may or may not be overblown as a point of historical fact (it could be argued that even one incident in a decade -- and there have already been more than that -- is still too much if it's a bad one, say in one of the several nearby school yards); but as a point of appraisal for insurance and legal purposes, it remains an issue.

"This idea of using the airport to fend off CN is misguided if what you're trying to do is keep CN green."

You're absolutely correct on that point. For over twenty years the town council advocated for its removal because of safety and noise issues. Now they (at least Cam anyway) are touting its supposed benefits. Keeping the airport where it is definitely won't stop UNC from building Carolina North somewhere. In my opinion, the airport site is the least disruptive spot we could ever hope for.

Joe: In response to your question, "Anyone have the stats on how many AHEC air passengers are actually health professionals on a bona fide health educational or clinical trip, and how many are UNC administrators, sports coaches on recruiting trips, and other non-AHEC-related UNC employees?"

If I remember correctly, according to a study conducted for UNC a few
years ago, slightly less than 20% of MedAir's flights out of HWA were
actually for AHEC-related business. The other 80% of flights were non health-related trips that served other departments of UNC.

About three years ago, while CN planning was well-
underway and the legislature was starting to get involved
with airport-closing legislation, the UNC planning firm
Ayers-Saint-Gross presented a few slides
of a version of CN with the airport open.
Look at slides 41, 40, and 39
of their presentation, available at:
It may help people decide if the airport is compatible with CN.

Truly frightening.

I had no idea they'd gone that far in planning CN with the airport. Slide 39 in particular shows just how much additional greenspace would have to be used. Also hard to fathom how they ever thought putting all those buildings so close to the runway would be acceptable to the people who had to be in them.

Let's hope that's a nightmare that never sees the light of day.

Yes I actually brought that Ayers Saint Gross Plan (original plan with airport open was dated 2000-- I have a bad copy somehow) at one of the early Leadership Advisory Committee meetings showing development "all up and down the north south road" north of the airport. I think the only real response to it during the meeting was "all plans were off the table" at that point. Can you imagine all what has transpired since then (plans, community input, various committees, money spent), and how much of a joke it would be to go back to that old plan. But you never know. That would certainly preclude preserving 75% of the tract and would have development in the most environmentally sensitive areas. I can't think of a plan that is more at odds with the Horace Williams Citizens' Committee goals (which have been adopted as Town policy and was golden for the Town in its LAC meetings).

I was talking about scrapping an existing airport only to move it to a new location. I think we can assume that moving HWA will require new concrete for an airport elsewhere.

Have had more than my share of words here, but the old ASG plan had things like tot lots and rec fields not far from the end of the runway and had situated residential and office buildings so close to it that it risked having the FAA raise serious questions about it. (You can see two soccer fields among the buildings in slide 41 on that ppt presentation.)

After complaining for years about the town's approval of schools and development so close to the airport (at a time when the Univ. had announced firm plans to close and move the airport), the pilots remained silent about the advisability of actually immediately building west of Airport/MLK and east of Sewell Sch. Rd. in that plan.

I remember, in particular, some of the univ. board members at the original unveiling of that plan asking what that "white band" at the bottom of the plan was -- it was not marked as a runway. When someone said -- after the meeting -- "oh that's the runway," I heard another ask, "is that a good idea?"

"After complaining for years about the town's approval of schools and development so close to the airport (at a time when the Univ. had announced firm plans to close and move the airport), the pilots remained silent about the advisability of actually immediately building west of Airport/MLK."

And even now, in their PR mat'ls pushing for the airport's survival, the private pilots' lobbying group, AOPA (which claims 10,000 members in NC alone!), advocates the following:

"Horace Williams can continue operating side-by-side with Carolina North, as was provided for in the original plans for the new campus research extension."


Laurin, I've also brought that plan up a number of times since its introduction. UNC, in multiple venues, has continued to reiterate that this is one of the plans that was taken "off the table".

Of course, as you note, what's really in play can be hard to determine. It took a year to get a confirmation of what I said would happen - that the initial stages, for all of UNC's rhetoric, would end up looking like an overflow campus.

I think, logically at least, it's pretty clear that it is either the airport or the integrated development that UNC envisaged - not both. The path we might be treading is one of peripheral development clustered into "safe zones" (yes, I hear your groan Priscilla) on the HWA tract (think of the current municipal site, for instance).


Will's comment about having "peripheral development clustered into 'safe zones' on the HWA tract" is a frigthening prospect.

Is there some way the town could insist (through zoning or permits) that NO construction should begin until the airport is gone?

For some perspective, here's an entry from OP 2003 Super Campus.

Four years in, we can see how the baseline has shifted (or not).

To David Beck: "I think we can assume that moving HWA will require new concrete for an airport elsewhere."

I don't understand why you don't think RDU is an acceptable option. It's only 20 minutes from CH.Any other possible site would be at least that far, wouldn't it?

Good question, J. Nicholls. The answer is within what the Town is planning to do currently. We will be hiring a consultant soon to assist us in developing a new zone for the HW property. As you may know, the town's process for approval of any project (and this is no exception), is a lengthy one, filled with community input, concept plans to council, public hearings, etc. The Town is considering a new zone for this property, and how this will pan out is in the near future (next year). In the future, the council will get an idea as to what UNC's concept plan looks like, which may in fact include the development on TOP of the airport. But the first step for us really is gathering all the data we need here for our new zone. We are getting information from a long range transit study, for example. When we have a new zone established, then we can go from there. And we are certainly in no rush, and are on our own time table on that one. We will exercise our due diligence in getting all the facts we need, and results of our foundational studies to help us. Would a new zone include the ability to house an airport? If it doesn't, then I don't see how an airport can exist. Maybe it's premature to address this question now. An excellent point you make, though.

First, where is it written that the university is obligated to provide an airport at all? AHEC is not chartered as a University program but a state-wide program with several institutional participants, yet somehow the university has accepted responsibility for housing the AHEC fleet. Fair enough, but if those 6 planes are based at RDU, is the Univ. (and thereby NC taxpayers) somehow obliged to provide an airport somewhere for general/private aviation anyway?

Second, Will, you might like to see a schematic that shows the various "zones" of estimated safe building around an airport and then superimpose it on the HW tract. I will try to find a way to upload or email you the "Land Use" diagrams from Wash. State DOT if you haven't seen them. The only "safe zones" under that sort of allocation would be quite far to the north and not really offer much in the way of square footage to develop.

Third, using the Town's zoning franchise proved dicey a few years ago, as many may remember well, when pro-airport intererests got the Gen. Assembly to threaten to strip univ. host towns of their zoning authority. I don't know that they would dare the same move again in the current post-Black era, but even if we all agree that the Town should indeed have the authority to determine zoning for CN, I'm guessing that even that is going to be a battle all the way around -- with or without the airport thrown into the mix. Hope I'm wrong about that.

Here's the WSDOT document -- pp 42 and ff give the "safe zone" diagrams, but it takes a little bit to parse what you're looking at -- created a distilled/boiled down diagram pertinent to HWA that should be in town records for April 2001 (will try to email it to you, Will).

Thanks Priscilla, I'll distill the images and post them on .

You (or anyone else) can send me material on HWA (or any other interesting local deeds mis- or otherwise at campaign AT ).


For those handy with tinypic:

If you're still with me looking at those diagrams, bear in mind they recommend no residential building up through zone 5 and very limited density for 6 -- and that's just the short version (see the WSDOT document for details).

Tim I guess that's true - RDU probably suffices. I guess I was mainly spurred to enter this conversation b/c I think the safety argument is way overblown. And my apologies for pulling this off-topic though I guess HWA and CN are inextricably linked.

Priscilla, I have complete sympathy with your concern about
UNC doing an end run around the towns (plural) zoning
authority, especially given the Moeser administration's
record on the improvements to S. Columbia Street.
However in the case of CN, Chacellor Moeser recently wrote
yes WROTE, a letter to Mayor Foy stating that UNC recognizes
the right of CH and Carrboro to zone the property, and that
UNC is subject to that zoning.

There are many state universities, Michigan is a notable
one, whose administration has asked their legislatures
for and received
exemptions to town zoning, but I don't think that will
happen here. There are too many state-university towns
in NC, too many other government facilities in NC,
and the towns themselves are well organized under
the aegis of the NC League of Municipalities, for
a state-wide bill to pass. Perhaps
the UNC administration would propose a local bill that would apply only to CH, but I trust that our local state delegation
would not allow it to pass.

I do think however, that
the CH council has waited too long to start the process
to define and apply the zone, and since this will take a
long time, as Laurin describes above, UNC may pressure
CH to sacrifice some control in the name of
expedience. I have no idea where Carrboro is on the
creation of a zone, but since the CN proposed construction
is almost exclusively in the CH-zoned area, Carrboro may
not need to hurry.

I guess we might still want a clearer explanation from the University as to why they want/need CN and how they intend to pay for it. My last recollection is that the Chancellor was going to ask the Legislature for $25 million to get CN going. Does anyone recall whether that is the case?

I still wonder about what is driving the process when I just read in the most current issue of Businessweek:
"'Maintenance doesn't have that allure to a private donor,' says James E. Alty, director of facilities services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."
And, from the same article: "Chapel Hill's outstanding maintenance bill: $400 million, on top of 25 new building projects."

I would hope that the University would make sure that it has the funds to take care of what it already has (including the approximately $1.9 billion in new construction/renovation that is being finished up) before it goes on a spending spree to build something new.

Appreciate your comments and the history, Joe. Still think it could get interesting, but am impressed that Chancellor M. wrote what he did on the record. Have lived on or in the vicinity of more than a couple of colleges/universities in various locations -- town-gown is an interesting dynamic no matter where you are.
Re: funding for CN. Wonder if they've considered selling naming rights? "Cisco-Carolina"?

Priscilla, here's a discussion I sparked with my post on OP from Feb. 2006 on the "sovereignty" issue.

This has been the great "boogie man" of the CN discussions for years. I suggested a long time ago that there's "strength in numbers" and that our local leadership's insistence to go it alone on the possible legislative action makes no sense.

There are at least 16 other municipalities that would be hurt by the precedent. Does Asheville, Raleigh or Greenville want to wait until Chapel Hill loses the right to control development within its borders before springing into action? I don't think so.

So, I'll renew my 5 year running request that our Mayor - whomever that ends up being ;-) - contact our fellow UNC communities and see if we can create a united coalition to fight any attempt, anywhere to remove this fundamental policy tool from local control.

BTW, the NC League, though possibly helpful on the logistics of organizing a "common defense" is NOT the organization to lead the charge.

Just my time appreciate $0.02

weird - lost some "d's" there... "NC League of Municipalities"... "time appreciated $0.02"

Does anyone know when the legislature will decide whether to let UNC close HWA?

There is a "university communities caucus" of the NC League of Municipalities. It is my recollection, though I could be wrong, that Foy instituted this shortly after his first election as mayor. BTW, the League also has a readily accessible list of legislators who have held prior municipal office, a first group to contact on matters of municipal concern.

Dan, are you referring to this?

Mayor Waldorf reported that she, Mr. Horton and Council Member Strom had gone to a recent League of Municipalities meeting and that Chapel Hill had taken the lead in organizing a meeting of representatives of university and college towns.

She reported that a decision had been made to form a University Communities Caucus, and that Chapel Hill was left with the responsibility for taking the next organizational step. Mayor Waldorf urged the next Town Council to follow through on this initiative, adding that it has the potential to enable university communities to work better with the legislature and the university system.

Mayor pro tem Pavão ascertained that the caucus would be for North Carolina.

Council Member Brown thanked the three for forming this caucus, and suggested that the Council work with the NC League of Municipalities. Mayor Waldorf replied that the plan was to work through that League.

Oct. 22, 2001 Town Minutes

The NC LM doesn't appear to have coordinated any collective action on zoning, the UNC system and the possible loss of local control (I'd be happy to see their specific actions on behalf of the major municipalities hosting UNC system campuses).

In any case, I have and will continue to suggest forming an alliance outside of the NCLM in order to separate the signal from the noise.

BTW, did you realize Alder Dan is offline to the public?

Joe: "Anyone have the stats on how many AHEC air passengers
are actually health professionals on a bona fide health
educational or clinical trip, and how many are
UNC administrators, sports coaches on recruiting
trips, and other non-AHEC-related UNC employees?"

I found a recent study done in 2005 for UNC by the aviation consultant group, Talbert & Bright, and was amazed to learn how few AHEC flights there are compared to other traffic at HWA. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of medical personnel only use MedAir flights one or two times a year and only a few use it more than five or six times a year.

Very elucidating.

Check it out (esp. slides 40-44):



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