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.

Total votes: 119

Comments

Cam's ideas are certainly worth a long and serious look by the University but given how entrenched they have been on certain issues, and the lack of creativity regarding CN, it wouldn't surprise me if these ideas are just summarily dismissed by the current University administrators. Perhaps we can hope that the trustees will themselves decide that this new vision for CN (overflow campus vs research campus) warrants a totally fresh look at the options available for these valuable properties and how best they might move forward to grow both UNC-CH and Chapel Hill in harmony instead of dissonance.

Cam can't post to OP himself? In any case, it's nice to see him publicly come forward at this juncture even if we could've used his political umph earlier ;-)

Moving to Finley has been discussed quietly, at least to my knowledge, for some time. If the environmental consequences could be managed (and they're not, as far as I can tell, of the scale of developing HWA), the transit tie-ins achieved and the same set of issues - fiscal equity being one - solved then it makes a better landing pad for the BOT's wished development.

As far as building it elsewhere - as far as the bio-tech component it's already being done both in Kannapolis (North Carolina Research Campus ) and Raleigh (Biomedical Centennial Campus ).

Thanks Cam for bringing your gravitas to bear.

Such visionary thinking - keep the airport right where it is so it can incorporate lots of small jet traffic to justify its presence (despite the fact there are several schools nearby). Then use up a few hundred unspoiled acres of the Horace Williams tract for a new golf course. Sure wish I'd thought of that.

"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)." Wasn't the number of parking spaces a major source of contention in the Lot 5 discussions with Ram? Aren't they providing 1-2 spaces per unit? Why wasn't there a transit study done by the TOWN before all that development was approved up around Weaver Dairy? If the town leaders are so dedicated to reducing parking, shouldn't they set the example through their own projects and through LUMO? Does the town have a program in place to discourage town employees, elected and appointed officials NOT to drive to town hall?

I doubt that there are very many OP contributors who want to see CN built, but couldn't we find arguments that don't set up such a double standard between the towns and the university? To me, those arguments become more divisive than productive.

If Mr. Hill feels so strongly about these issues, why didn't he speak up when he was representing the town on the LAC committee? I seem to remember a lot of shrugging and smirking coming from him but hardly any comments. Why now when things are so far along?

As Terri said above, his arguments just seem more divisive than productive.

No earth has been turned, so the timing - while less than perfect - is of no real consequence. I say give credit to a great idea. Can anyone deny that golf is less important than doing this the right way?

Save the land at HW for a time when it might be necessary.

daniel

No earth has been turned, so the timing - while less than perfect - is of no real consequence. I say give credit to a great idea. Can anyone deny that golf is less important than doing this the right way?

Save the land at HW for a time when building on it might be necessary (not just preferred)

daniel

"A great idea?" I don't think so.

If Mr. Hill were truly representing the town's interests, his first priority would be getting rid of an airport that has been the sight of numerous crashes and fatalities over the years - not striving to keep it open for the few disgruntled pilots and passengers who may have to drive a few extra minutes to get to RDU if it were removed.

When a plane crashed on Phillips Middle School grounds some years ago, I remember the town council and chool board were rightfully clamoring for the airport's closure. Now council members want to keep it there? Get real.

I didn't say Cam's ideas were divisive--I said the argument is divisive. Cam is certainly not alone in using transit-oriented arguments against CN. I also suggested that the town should lead by example.

I won't deny that "golf is less important than doing this the right way" Dan, but to me the real argument about CN is with the basic concept of a research campus. Transit and housing are just good excuses to use to oppose it.

For the record, I oppose CN--not because of transit or housing. I oppose it because it feels like the Walmartization of UNC. I don't care where it's located, it will soak up a lot of funding to build and support that I would prefer to see dedicated to education. Bigger is not always better.

Any research campus also moves research away from undergrads and to me, the value for young people in attending a Research I institution is the opportunity to learn from direct exposure to strong researchers. I want the money and the research to stay on main campus where the students are. If the university wants to build an innovation center, fine. I like that idea. But that's different from moving primary research centers like Institute for the Environment and RENCI out away from the students.

As others have pointed out, all the other functions being tentatively scheduled for CN, like the health clinic and innovation center, are service extensions and certainly don't warrant a new campus (or company-owned housing).

Irrespective of length there is also a weight limit that only allows one category of jets. Additional work will be required to accomodate heavier jets.

"If the town leaders are so dedicated to reducing parking, shouldn't they set the example through their own projects and through LUMO? Does the town have a program in place to discourage town employees, elected and appointed officials NOT to drive to town hall?"

Terri, I'm sure if the University is willing to restrict the number of its employees, contractors, patients and students that travel to CN on a daily basis to the same number of town employees and officials that travel to town hall each day, the Town would be more than willing to use the same standard for both.

GeorgeC, a bit orthogonal but if the Town was serious on reducing inter-site travel the Tech Board's recommendations on creating a suitable communications infrastructure between Townhall, the TOC and other sites would've been acted upon.

As far as parking spaces at Lot #5, the gold-plated, million dollar condos, unless something has changed in the last weeks, get even more of the parking pie (which kind of undercuts the assertion that these units won't become high-priced warrens for well-to-do students).

Terri, excellent point on detaching the research mission from the educational mission. From the descriptions I've heard so far it seems like undergraduate participation in all the aspects of CN is restricted to tourism ("you can visit, just don't touch").

JN, don't you find it interesting that the Town has stopped asking for the former UNC moratorium on jets be reinstated. I tried to get that kick-started a few times but gave up years ago - maybe the time is ripe, given the possible AHEC delay, for another run at it?

Unfortunately, especially with Tom rep'ing the column, this might feel more like election year posturing than a considered attempt to change the dialog (or paradigm).

That said, while there's no way I want a golf course at CN (a tit-for-tat), there is value in suggesting a reorientation of UNC's approach. Sure, Cam could've jumped in earlier (as I suggested before) but now he's publicly struck out in a new direction and putting Finley into play (at least from a current Council member perspective) what can we suggest to improve on his column's suggestion?

"I'm sure if the University is willing to restrict the number of its employees, contractors, patients and students that travel to CN on a daily basis to the same number of town employees and officials that travel to town hall each day, the Town would be more than willing to use the same standard for both."

Great response George and very indicative of the kind of double standard I was talking about. Should we apply that "size" logic to other aspects of life? Ethics of large organizations count more than ethics of small organizations? Morals for businesses count more than morals for individuals?

Will,

Cam asked me to post his column because he was going out of town for the weekend and knew I could publish stuff on OP. I know that for some the obvious explanation for something won't suffice when a conspiracy could be hatched up instead but in this case I'm sorry to disappoint.

Terri,

It's always interesting to watch someone try to make an ethics argument out of something that has nothing to do with ethics. The RAM development on lot 5 has 120 residences on it. The Town Hall, built many years ago, has 100-200 employees. Carolina North is, based on the University's own projections, going to have >10,000 cars (and that would be at least 40,000 vehicles trips per day. You can try to compare apples to oranges all day but no one else in Chapel Hill or Carrboro is going to buy the ridiculous argument that the RAM project and Town Hall have anything in common with Carolina North. If you're so worried about the Town setting a double standard then why don't you encourage the University to bring Carolina North up for approval under the current zoning? There's nothing stopping them from doing that you know.

George,

If town leaders believe transit is the right thing to do for the environment and quality of life in this town--aka smart growth, that belief should apply across the board. That has everything to do with ethics. You pack enough of those 100-200 person developments/businesses into the town---Meadowmont, Weaver Dairy, Eastgate, etc.--and you have the same scale as CN spread out across the community.

I don't know anything about the zoning issue with CN. But didn't the TC just rezone downtown in order to move forward with their own project?

Terri,

Yes, the Council did rezone for the lot 5 project to allow greater height (and thus greater density) in an area already very well-served by transit and within walking distance of many restaurants, stores (but sadly, not grocery) and services. And all of the parking is underground and thus there will be no increase in impervious surface. And the latest approval for the Weaver Dairy Rd area was for a project in Chapel Hill North that has a limited number of parking spaces (about 1.5 or 1.6 per residence by my recollection), is close to transit and I-40, and is within walking distance of two grocery stores, two drug stores, two theaters, a hardware store, a woman's fitness facility, UNC health facilities, a veterinarian, three banks, and numerous cafes and restaurants and other services. I think that was a pretty good call on the Council's part.

I don't think as many people as you think are opposed per se to Carolina North . I think what is particular worrisome to me and I suspect many others is the fact that the University has yet to present a cohesive vision of what they want or need for CN. The fact that they went from a research campus, that we were repeatedly told was critical to the University's functioning, to an overflow campus in a period of just four short months gives many of us cause to worry about who and what is driving this process. I would be very concerned (and more) if I found out that the University knew about this proposed change of use while the LAC process was ongoing and "neglected" to share it with us. That would indeed be a matter of ethics!

A few points:

1) Terri's argument that "Transit and housing are just good excuses to use to oppose it" is wrong. Transit and housing are key areas of impact that will be felt by the community. It is critically important that UNC get those factors right from the outset if at all possible.

2) Cam's argument could not have been raised at LAC. The LAC was a committee of the Chancellor's. He was very clear from the outset on what was on the table and that the expectation of CN on the Horace Williams property was to be taken as foundational.

3) I think it is a misreading of Cam's article to suggest that he wants the airport to stay open. He closes with the phrase "when the airport is finally closed...." The fact of that matter is that recent developments in the legislature have again made the fate of the airport less than clear.

4) Terri is right that we should try not to have double standards. But neither should we allow past failings to justify lowering standards in the future.

There is no question that Cam's suggested location is a big improvement in terms of transportation infrastructure.

Another factor is that development on Horace Williams is somewhat hung up waiting the clean up of the toxic waste dump as well as on resolution of the airport. The alternate site could potentially be developed more quickly (whatever "quickly" might mean given the 14 years and counting of CN planning).

Tom, no conspiracy required. I assume your comment means that you won't be working on Bill's and Cam's campaigns as a publicist?

GeorgeC, Terri - the same arguments Cam is making for Finley - and GeorgeC's comments on MLK/Weaver Dairy (where, I can assure you, not all the neighbors find Council's call on yet another RAM job so "good") apply moreso to the Eastgate/University Mall/Conner Dr. area.

Council is working hard to unbalance the charm and ambiance of Downtown yet ignores an obvious locale for strong economic development.

Why then, even after it was highlighted in the 2003 run, is this area continuing to get short shrift? Taller buildings? Higher density? Rewarding sustainable development with decreased parking requirements? Playing to the existing transit corridors, amenities, infrastructure that could manage the growth?

Geez, seems obvious, what am I missing GeorgeC?

Dan, just cause Cam was on the LAC doesn't preclude him from making the suggestion. On the LAC he could of used Finley for comparison/contrast. As a leader in Town, he certainly could've brought it up instead of waiting to pre-election.

Mark M.- Yes, I know Eastgate, in terms of the watershed, would be better off dredged up and buried (somewhere within the county one supposes). Sans that solution (and not wanting to disappoint all those folks pre-waiting Trader Joes arrival), what could be done to improve the watershed and increase the commercial potential of what's currently a strip mall wasteland?

Would it be possible over time, for instance, to encourage redevelopment facing the creek and enhancing what has become a drainage ditch back to a more natural and inviting watercourse?

Dan - I disagree with your comment: "I think it is a misreading of Cam's article to suggest that he wants the airport to stay open."

It sounds to me like Cam is definitely advocating keeping the airport open for business: "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."

Unfortunately, Cam completely ignores the safety issue of having an airport in the center of a growing metropolitan community. When another crash occurs, it'll be too late.

"Transit and housing are key areas of impact that will be felt by the community. It is critically important that UNC get those factors right from the outset if at all possible."

I agree that transit and (affordable) housing are important. But policies and practices for all new development should be based on the principles of easily accessible public transit and sufficient affordable housing. Of course, building the type of housing that will be lived in by people who are willing to use mass transit should also be a consideration. I still have doubts about the likelihood of the millionaires who will be living in downtown Chapel Hill riding the bus to go shoping at the mall or to dinner at A Glass Half Full.

WillR,

Great idea. Why don't you ask the owners of Eastgate to redevelop it. And while you're at it, how about the stripmall on Elliot Rd and University Mall and Timberlyne are both outdated designs as well. I don't see any of these owners proposing to redo their properties and even the proposed and approved plans for improving Ram Plaza were curtailed for economic reasons. I don't think you'll find a lot of people disputing that these areas could be (re)developed in a much more attractive and efficient and sustainable manner but until the owners come in with proposals to do so there isn't a lot the town can do about it.

TC-X maybe George? I thought the suggestion a few months ago to revamp the comprehensive planning process vis-a-vis the Town and Planning Board could've helped us rethink this area.

We're doing a Rogers Rd. Small Area task force, maybe we need a task force for considering how to zone these areas to encourage the kind of commercial/office/residential growth I'm suggesting and then get back to the Planning Board.

More than that, we need to pull together more than land-use planning though - we need to rethink this area in terms of a full-fledged economic development plan (one that incorporates more than land development but jobs growth, quality of business activity, etc. ).

You're an appointed leader on this within our community, what existing group do we have or need to pull this off?

Oh, and during the Federal Theater fiasco I actually had an opportunity to discuss this with some of the local business folks.

WillR,
We don't need to rezone it first to get developers interested. If they think they have an interesting and viable plan they will bring it to the town and discuss rezoning at that time. The issue is what makes economic sense to the developers. Many of the developers don't believe you can sustain their retail businesses without bringing people in from outside the immediate area. And the shopping areas we just discussed all suffer from difficult access or ingress/egress issues. And virtually all of those would require NCDOT participation to solve. Not impossible, but as we've seen from so many other projects, a very, very long process. And developers don't like very, very long processes which make for very difficult cost estimations and financing.

That's funny. One of the big reasons for doing Lot #5, supposedly, is to proactively spur development. Wasn't that why TC-3 was created? So, Eastgate/Conner/Univversity Mall - let's wait to see what happens - Downtown, let's light the fuse?

Developing/re-developing the eastern commercial district holds more promise and promises less destruction of our Town's innate charm than the DDI but we insist on the riskier (and costlier to our citizenry) path. Weird (and maybe just a bit irrational - like love).

Will - in answer to your question, "Don't you find it interesting that the Town has stopped asking for the former UNC moratorium on jets be reinstated?"

I certainly do. And I have absolutely no doubt that if the University is told by the legislature to keep the airport open for the foreseeable future, there'll be a substantial increase in airport use and a lengthening of the runway to accommodate larger (jet) aircraft. Don't you agree?

WillR,
Your argument doesn't make sense. The Town owns lot 5 so it could indeed do something to spur economic development, using a property that it has control over. In contrast, the Town doesn't own Rams Plaza or Eastgate or the Elliot Road strip mall or University Mall. However, I'm reasonably sure that if one of those owners were to acquire your civic spirit and come forward with a plan to revitalize their property in a way that helps the surrounding neighborhoods and the Town, the Council would look favorably upon it.

We're pretty much off thread here since this discussion was about Carolina North. You and I can continue the discussion about economic development in the eastern part of town next time we meet.

Sounds like an interesting idea to me. Also, that airport is a heck of a lot less dangerous than the MLK/Estes intersection. I think the danger element at the airport is much overstated, esp. compared with the risk of doing anything in a car.

I think that Cam's suggestion to move Carolina North to the sewer treatment facility is a very good idea.

The suggestion to make the HWT into a golf course is absolutely appalling!

Cam, are you joking? Is that responsible? Is this entire editorial a satire? It has satiric elements, and I appreciate that, until I get to the golf course part.

While town council is open to ideas about opposing Carolina North, let's get right down to something productive that will preserve the land.

The Horace Williams Arboretum. Let the community enjoy the local wilderness.

A golf course? Like we need another golf course around here? Golf? Really?! Gut the forest and turn the land into an area for elitism, formality, and an environment of rigid conduct.

Golf course - like they're friendly to the environment and don't have water run-off issues...

c'mon....let's fight for something meaningful...has anyone considered this forest through the eyes of a child or are we just so bloated with our adult ideas that we're blind about how precious this land could be in 50 years, undisturbed....

hoge

Cam gets kudos from the Herald for raising these questions: "It may have been a modest proposal, but the questions it raises are critical to the future of this community"

Cam wrote: "The NC Area Health Education Centers is a program that flies doctors around the state to treat patients in their hometowns." This is not AHEC's mission.

Its charter purpose is for "Education" (as the name states), and most of what it does entails those "Education Centers" that provide continuing ed and outreach education programs. In addition, a lot of what AHEC does has nothing to do with its Medical Flight Operations, which is just ONE part of the AHEC program. Considering that the pilots' lobby has appropriated AHEC as the pivot/wedge to keep HWA open, it is frustrating that so many, including Cam, persist in misunderstanding or misrepresenting what AHEC actually does.

Quoting the AHEC website: "Since its early beginnings in 1968, AHECs Medical Air Operations, or Medical Air service, has transported health science faculty, medical residents, health science students, and university officials to all areas of the state (underscore:) for educational activities."

Patient care can be and is, indeed, part of clinical education, and recently a description of a typical Medical Air Operations day was added to emphasize and illustrate service to clinics around the state. However, the AHEC overall mission is, repeat, education, not health care delivery per se. Moreover, it maintains centers around the state and includes personnel from several institutions, not just HWA's owner, UNC-Chapel Hill.

It has served the purposes of general aviation lobbyists to spotlight AHEC as the main reason to keep HWA open (but would they fight as hard if it were restricted to AHEC flights and they had no hope of keeping it open to private planes?) One has to wonder what and whose purposes are served by trying to offer, once again, the airport as if it were somehow a blessed bulwark against Carolina North. That position hopes the University will be, once again, overruled by the legislature, and in doing so, it embraces the continuing imposition of a problematic, expensive facility the Town has long wanted gone. Neither is good news nor a good precedent.

Priscilla is right on the money! It is so easy to create a desired impression of what the program does versus what it really does. Just look at the AOPA VP's statement, for example (June 14, 2007, 5:13 p.m. EDT posting on the AOPA webpage):

"It's clear that this airport is a vital asset to the community, AHEC, and the university," said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. "These doctors aren't in an easy position, yet they are standing up for Horace Williams because it provides them the fastest response time for medical flights."

Using phrases like "fastest response time" sure sounds like someone wants you to think this is about medical emergencies and critical care.

The livers on the way.... When Moeser's UNC administration reinstitutes the moratorium on jets we know their focus has shifted.

Will, allowing jets was not a decision of the UNC at Chapel Hill administration. It was a decision made by the president of the UNC system and neither of the two presidents since Mr. Spangler ordered it have been moved to change it.

Thanks Fred. I was told that it was necessary for Moeser to ask Bowles formally to reinstitute. I thought that was why your HWA advisory board was working through Hooker. Do you know if that's the case?

I was reviewing my notes on the whole mess and thought you'd enjoy this blast from the past:

Fred Black, a resident of North Haven at Ironwoods, expressed concern about the safety of the airport and its proximity to schools and neighborhoods. Mr. Black also said that the University's recent decision to allow jets to use Horace Williams airport appeared to be the product of unilateral and secret decision making. He also expressed deep concern that the University had changed its written agreement with the Council without the Council's knowledge. Mr. Black stated that homes in his neighborhood shook when jets were taking off from Horace Williams airport.

Mr. Black requested that the Council act to protect the interest of local residents by: (1) establishing a delegation of Council Members to meet with Chancellor Hooker about the matter, (2) requesting that the University reverse its policy regarding jet usage of the airport facility, (3) asking that the University document their analysis of stated need and analysis for jet usage as opposed to prop planes and (4) asking the Council to take steps to evaluate what tools were available and the Council's willingness to use them to act on the matter. Mr. Black said given the seriousness of the situation, it would be strongly preferable for the Council to act on the items this evening, rather than referring the matter to staff.

Mayor Waldorf inquired about the Council's pleasure relative to possible action this evening. Council Member Capowski suggested that the Council decide what, if any, action to take after the Council had heard from all of the petitioners.

Noting that he had owned three different homes in the Town, all impacted by the airport to varying degrees, Planning Board and Planning Panel Member Scott Radway said he wished to add his voice to the growing number of persons who felt that the University's policy regarding jet flights needed to be reversed as soon as possible. Mr. Radway said it was very important that the Council express in the strongest terms possible that the University's process for unilateral decision making needed to change.

David Strevel of the Chapel Hill Flying Club said he wished to address the Council about development on the Town's north side and the problems of airport encroachment brought about by prior Council actions. He noted that at a recent open house at Horace Williams Airport, a photograph from about sixty years ago showed that the airport at that time was about two miles north of Town, in the middle of a forest-like setting. Mr. Strevel said that sixty years later, Orange County had a population of about 100,000 and an increasing need for a general aviation airport.

Mr. Strevel said that as pilots, members of the Chapel Hill Flying Club were dismayed by the number of residential developments, such as Shadowoods and Ironwoods North, which the Council had approved near the Horace Williams airport. He stated that former Councils could have chosen to surround the Horace Williams airport with non-residential buffer areas to minimize possible conflicts. Mr. Strevel also said that there was a lamentable lack of cooperation and understanding between the Council and University which had persisted for many years. Mr. Strevel concluded his remarks by requesting that the Council acknowledge its role in creating land-use conflict on the Town's north side, and to work with the University to develop a more mature and cooperative relationship.

William Sawyer, Vice President of the Chapel Hill Flying Club, said he was a faculty member at the University. Mr. Sawyer stated that AHEC operations were not the reason for the Horace Williams airport being located in the Town. Mr. Sawyer said that Horace Williams was a general aviation, rather than commercial, facility which was established more than fifty-eight years ago.

He noted that the airport was used by many local pilots, Medical Air Operations, Children's Flight of Hope and various others. Mr. Sawyer said that jets which had recently flown into Horace Williams airport were Cessna Citations, rather than Lear jets, which were much quieter than many propeller planes which had used Horace Williams for many years. He also stated that the airport facility did not pose a safety threat to surrounding neighborhoods, nearby schools or the community. Stating that airplane crashes almost always only involved death or injury to airplane occupants, Mr. Sawyer said that more of the Town's school children were killed each year in auto accidents than were killed or injured in aviation-related accidents at Horace Williams. Mr. Williams said that no children had ever been hurt or injured in aviation-related accidents at Horace Williams airport.

Chris Hudson said although he lived in Charlotte, he was a Town taxpayer. Mr. Hudson also said that prior Council decisions regarding land use patterns had led to the current conflict regarding jet usage at Horace Williams airport. Mr. Hudson urged the Council to carefully weigh the benefits of the airport before potentially threatening the future use of this facility.

Mark Royster, Chairman of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board, said that the Board was on record in opposition to the use of jets at Horace Williams airport. Mr. Royster stated that the Board objected to the airport being so close to schools and was also opposed to any possible expansion of the Horace Williams airport. Mr. Royster said the School Board hoped that the Council would take whatever action was necessary to have the University's jet use policy reversed and the entire matter resolved as quickly as possible.

David Tauber, a resident of Ironwoods subdivision for five years, said the idea of allowing jets to fly into Horace Williams airport left him a bit speechless. Mr. Tauber suggested that persons wishing to use jets fly them to Raleigh-Durham (RDU) Airport and then drive in a car to the University. Mr. Tauber said that the airport without jets was a good neighbor to the Ironwoods neighborhood.

Feb. 24th, 1997 (I had been living adjacent to the airport more than 5 years at this point).

For those of you wanting to get up to speed on the HWA mess, Fred and Priscilla posted extensively on this April, 2004 OP post "Will the airport fly?" (good stuff).

Wow Will, you have good notes! Yes, Chancellor Hooker indicated that he would not ask President Spangler to reverse his decision because it was clear that the president was not inclined to do so. Both the chancellors and presidents since have retained that position.

It's not mentioned in the above piece but when the jets were first allowed, many of those landing here did not meet the University's own rules for HWA use.

The "constraint triangle" limits what is authorized and the three legs are formed by the runway Length of 4,005 ft. with a 500 foot displacement area, a Weight limit of 12,500 lbs. and the Noise limit of 85 decibles measured at 100 feet. Also, no stage one craft are authorized so only the small Citation jets fit the constraints last time I checked. Once we got the advisory board up and running the rules seemed to be more rigorously enforced.

Jesse James DeConto has more info on the AHEC position in this morning's N&O.

Fred, I remember the "constraint triangle" (I can think of a fiscal analogue the Council should use ;-) ). I guess UNC feels that a tiered approach to enforcing the limits is in their jet-setting folks interest.

Fred, the same argument Burke uses in today's article on getting an accurate census is what the University used 10 years ago. I guess there was no interest in sharpening up the figure after Moeser declared HWA's imminent demise in 2002 (and 2004, and ...)

I have this reference that says

An analysis by an aviation planning consulting firm showed that 693 people had used the airport from March 2003 to February 2004; AHEC's Web site said its planes made five to seven flights a day.

HWA does sell Jet A/100LL, could you make an estimate of traffic based on fuel usage?

Using fuel sales just doesn't work because many users don't buy at HWA becaues the cost of their Jet-A fuel is significantly higher than at other facilities.

If you want to track HWA traffic, at least for those craft that have not opted out of the system, go to the Flight Aware site and you can see the HWA (KIGX) as well as any other airport. You can also check on scheduled commercial aircraft.

For example, it shows AHEC N58PY (BE58) going to Columbus County Muni (KCPC) that departed at Fri 07:43 EDT . I heard another plane take off a few minutes ago but it is not in the system.

I live in the North Forest Hills subdivision not far off of Airport Road and am very concerned about the CN development, particularly its effects on traffic. One of the main reasons I moved away from Northern Virginia was to escape traffic that had made commuting and running errands into a time-consuming, aggravating nightmare. If anyone wants a model for what not to do in development, see Northern Virginia, which has been transformed over the last 30 years into one continuous suburb intermixed with strip malls.

It seems like nearly everyone posting to this thread is opposed to CN. But in reading through the comments, I was disturbed by the sarcasm and petty criticisms of each other's points. Aren't we on the same side here? Shouldn't we be trying to find common ground so that we can effectively make the town's voice heard with UNC?

Maybe that's naive. I'm starting to get the impression from this thread that the town of Chapel Hill doesn't have any influence over the CN planning process or university decisions. If that's true, who should concerned citizens be talking to?!

Jesse DeConto's article is excellent. As he explains, there is traffic in and out of HWA that doesn't get counted and doesn't show up on FlightAware.

Your old notes, WillR, didn't include mention of (not faulting you for this, just noting) Chris Hudson's role with AOPA (pilot/general aviation lobby) -- perhaps he wasn't at that time an office holder, but he has been regional rep for them. Wonder in what sense he was a "Town taxpayer" (don't we mostly pay to OC?) Along that line, I wonder, too, whether readers of Jesse's article will put the pieces together re: Hoteling's interests.

Sheila, you raise questions that are, shall we say, about enduring issues. It's hard sometimes to decide whether to assume CN is going to happen no matter what and therefore we should focus efforts on having input on CN planning that may actually be heard (over the long haul, one sees evidence of movement on some issues in town-favored directions but it's a glacial and obscure process) -- which then opens you up to cross-winds among neighborhoods with competing goals. Or do you assume that the Univ. is whistling in the dark because opposition to CN may prevail in the General Assembly? If that's the case, then is it really in our best interests to ally ourselves with them (for example, general aviation) just because we don't like what we think CN will do to the town? It's extremely complex, hard to know what's realistic, hard to know where final power really lies.

Welcome to Chapel Hill! There's an election coming up, so stay tuned.

Jesse DeConto's article is excellent. As he explains, there is traffic in and out of HWA that doesn't get counted and doesn't show up on FlightAware.

BTW, your old notes, Will, didn't include mention of (not faulting you for this, just noting) Chris Hudson's role with AOPA (pilot/general aviation lobby) -- perhaps he wasn't at that time an office holder, but he has been regional rep for them. Wonder in what sense he was a "Town taxpayer" (don't we mostly pay to OC?) Along that line, I wonder, too, whether readers of Jesse's article will put the pieces together re: Hoteling's interests.

Sheila, you raise questions that are, shall we say, about enduring issues. It's hard sometimes to decide whether to assume CN is going to happen no matter what and therefore we should focus efforts on having input on CN planning that may actually be heard (over the long haul, one sees evidence of movement on some issues in town-favored directions but it's a glacial and obscure process) -- which then opens you up to cross-winds among neighborhoods with competing goals. Or do you assume that the Univ. is just whistling in the dark because opposition to CN may prevail in the General Assembly? If that's the case, then is it really in our best interests to ally ourselves with the opposition (for example, general aviation) just because we don't like what we think CN will do to the town? It's extremely complex, hard to know what's realistic, hard to know where final power really lies.

Welcome to Chapel Hill! There's an election coming up, so stay tuned.

J., it's no secret, their law firm is called Epting and Hackney.

Ruby,

Thanks for the info, but do you know if Mr. Epting or their law firm actually keep a plane based at HWA?

J. Nicholls,
I believe that I have seen reports that Mr. Epting sometimes flies out of Horace Williams but given the problems of Speaker Hackney's predecessor and the Speaker's excellent reputation for fairness and ethics, I would think it unlikely that any consideration of this issue by the legislature was initiated or influenced by the Speaker himself.

Jesse DeConto's article was very illuminating. The fact that 75% of the flights out of HWA are actually for private purposes is unbelievable. (According to my calculations based on the information provided by WillR above, it seems that just under one flight per day is actually for an AHEC patient visit.)

The comments by Mr. Hotelling, Director of AHEC's Medical Air program, were particularly galling. He says that private air traffic is important to the local economy but I have yet to hear anyone tell us why.

And as far as his statement that the airport is an asset to the town "kind of like I-40," doesn't he realize that having an airborne interstate in the middle of our town is unsafe?

Finally, I read a letter recently (on the Carrboro Citizen website) claiming that House leader Joe Hackney, who called the special AHEC hearing last month in Raleigh, is also the business partner of Bob Epting, one of the private pilots who uses HWA for his own plane. Does anyone know if this is true? If it is, something smells VERY fishy to me.

Yes, he's an avid flyer and advocate for the airport. Has been for years.

George C - " I would think it unlikely that any consideration of this issue by the legislature was initiated or influenced by the Speaker himself."

According to an article in the Carborro Citizen, the legislative hearings were indeed called at the behest of Mr. Hackney himself. With his close business ties to Mr. Epting, don't you think recusing himself from this matter would have been the ethical and fair thing to do?

Pages

 
 

Content license

Creative Commons License
All content on OrangePolitics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

 

Donate to OP

 
Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.