UNC Master Plan workshop

UNC is updating the Campus Master Plan. This update seems to be hapenning rather quietly, considering its great importance. ("Quiet" meaning I haven't seen any publicity or listings and can't find any information about it online.) The Master Plan is an internal document UNC uses to guide its growth, and as such it has no formal connection to the Town. However, it is often cited by UNC as a justification when requesting Town approval for various development projects, so it is involved in most of the town-gown conversations about growth.

It's important for the non-campus community to have some part in this plan, since we all feel the repercussions of the resulting development. If I recall correctly (and I might not), the current plan was developed by a wide swath of UNC-related people with a handful of hand-picked town representatives, like Pat Evans (a former Chapel Hill Town Council Member and wife of the former Dean of Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC). This plan has such a huge impact on the community, I'd like to see the community have some measurable impact on it.

The following is from an e-mail sent to local officials. I presume this workshop is a part of UNC's effort to include the comunity in developing it's plans. Please take your post-election-hangover medicine, and come on out to this meeting. Tell your friends about it, especially if they are students or live near campus.

As you know, in September we held a kick-off meeting for the update of the campus master plan. The second workshop will be held on November 3 and I hope you will be able to join us.

Date: Wednesday, November 3
Time: 5:00 - 6:30 p.m.
Place: 116 Murphey Hall

What is our overall goal for these workshops? We are updating the campus master plan primarily in the Southwest District (Hospital and Medical School areas) and the Southeast District (housing, residential life and pedestrian circulation issues). The focus will be on incorporating buildings that have been approved in the recent Development Plans, completing some items not fully realized during the master plan such as pedestrian connections along the eastern edge of campus and considering adjustments to the existing plan.

What is the goal of the second workshop? Our planning consultants, Ayers Saint Gross, will be back for this second workshop. They will summarize the issues put forth by the participants in the September workshop, propose ways to address the issues, ask for your input and discuss where we go from here.

Jill Coleman, a project manager in the UNC Facilities Planning Department, is the project manager for the update. If you need to reach Jill, you can contact her at (919) 843-3246 or jcoleman@fac.unc.edu.

It's really not clear what this "workshop" is intended to be, and who it is for. I learned about the first one after the fact when it was mentioned by a citizen speaking at a Town Council meeting. At least one Council Member I spoke to had also not heard of it before then. Anyone have the scoop on these? Although it's not listed as such, I assume this workshop is open to the public because UNC is too smart to waste their community PR efforts on a closed meeting.


Hi Ruby,
Yes of course the meeting is open to the public and it would be great if OP readers and participants would join us. Council members were sent basically the same email you posted above.

Perhaps you were being kind to leave off my contact info, but you know I sent the email and would be happy to talk with folks in advance of the meeting (or any time). You can reach me at 962-9245 or Linda_Convissor@unc.edu.

I do want to stress that this "update" is envisioned as narrow in scope and short in time-frame. One reason for doing it is that the map from 2001 needed to be updated to reflect the actual footprints of buildings. Another is that we didn't feel that we had adequately addressed pedestrian issues particularly around the Law School and School of Government. It's been three years since approval and to a planner, three years seems like nothing, but on campus it's been three year's of construction and I think it's a good idea to take a look at where we are. As it says in the email, our attention will be primarily focused on the southern part of campus.

I may be shy on OP, but I'm always happy to talk about campus development or other University issues if people want to give me a call or send an email.


I've done some research on planning processes used by various universities in concert (or not) with their local communities. One interesting Campus Plan was developed using the same consultant UNC is using, involving significant, real collaboration between the town and the university (here, Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Melon University). The resulting plan document is quite instructive, and can be found here:


Key components of this plan, having I believe relevance to Chapel Hill-UNC situations (including Carolina North), include the Process on Page 2. Note the level of interaction, clear goal setting for the planning process itself,
identification of critical issues, an inclusive process to bring
in the entire community (read: University and City), Master Plan development, a series of Town Meetings at key junctures of developing the plan, traffic and parking studies, a "Sustainability Report" component, and final submission to the City.

Also worth a look is what is called in some quarters SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment), or PEIA (Programmatic Environmental Impact Assessment). See for example, http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/planning/SEAmicro/SEA.html!.
A SEA/PEIA process involves all stakeholders working together to formulat both goals and approaches, using various experts along the way to help. Such an approach seems much more likely to succeed than the dominant paradigm: the institution (here, the University) comes up with a plan, then the Town responds, then the University responds to the response by modifying its plan, and back and forth, back and forth. This so 20th Century! Goals and approaches developed by all by all a collaborative process from the getgo are the way to go.

Sorry I went to the protest across the street instead of this workshop (I hate having to chose). Did anyone go? What hapenned?


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