Stay informed on Carolina North

While it is really hard to imagine, Carolina North is going to have a HUGE impact on all of us, from the west end of Carrboro, through the Barclay neighborhood, the Bolin creek neighborhoods, and all the way to Martin Luther King Boulevard, Homestead Road, and all of Estes. Please pay attention to the emerging plans. It might not be possible to halt the beginning of this development, but we can influence the pace and design at this stage.

For further information about campaigns to alter the development, see the Friends of Bolin Creek website: .

It is amazing how little publicity these plans have had, after the initial hubbub. If anyone can write more about it, please take the lead!!! We need to get the word out.

Members of the campus community:

The University will host a new series of meetings about Carolina North for the campus and local communities on the last Tuesday of each month through May, beginning Tuesday, March 27.

You are invited to attend one of two sessions on March 27. The first session will be at 3:30 p.m., Room 2603, School of Government, Knapp-Sanders Building. The presentation will be repeated at 5:30 p.m. in the same location. Parking is available in the Highway 54 lot and Rams Head deck. The School of Government parking deck is available only for the 5:30 p.m. meeting.

University representatives will present potential uses of Carolina North and three conceptual approaches to its development. Attendees will have opportunities to ask questions and share comments. The feedback will help the university as it develops a concept plan for the UNC-owned property.

The conceptual plans that will be presented draw on the guiding principles developed by the Leadership Advisory Committee for Carolina North, an ecological assessment of the property and sustainability strategies.

At the same time the university is working on its plans, several supporting studies are under way or planned involving the campus and various government and community entities. Topics include transit, transportation and fiscal impact.

University officials believe Carolina North, the 900-plus-acre tract located about two miles north of the main campus in Chapel Hill, represents an unprecedented opportunity to develop a mixed-use academic ommunity that will benefit the campus and the community.

The university's Board of Trustees has directed the administration to submit a development plan for Carolina North to local governments by next October.

For more information about Carolina North, go to the website,

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Here's the link to the Herald article on the budget question:

I agree with Cam, UNC should hold its CN meetings somewhere other than the IOG, for those of us who do not use mass transit 8>) I like lots of parking spaces.

I suppose the benefit of all this CN talk is UNC will detect the hot spots in its planning and development process, if there are any. How can UNC get done as much as it wants to do without stirring up the 98% of us that couldn't be bothered to attend a meeting, view a recorded meeting, or read a blog/report? They surely could have learned a lot from the Lot 5 process.

And, who can complain? UNC has put a lot out there: reports, committees, promises, peaks, scenarios, put ups, take downs, etc. It has certainly lulled me to sleep.

Well, yes, there are hot spots. Those pesky permits they'll have to get. The open space thing. And oh yes, transportation.

How will we get those (tens of) thousands of people in and out of CN? We can have a lot of them live there! (Ha!) They all can ride the bus there! (Double Ha!!) They can walk and ride bikes! (Triple Ha, to where?) They can ride in something on those train tracks! (To where? Maybe their condo on Lot 5)

Act II Scene 1: Easley proposes no funds for CN in his budget this year.

Where's the Stage Manager, Thornton Wilder, when we need him?

Allison, quick note that the final LAC report is available HERE.

Same page has links to minutes, agendas and videos of the Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee's (LAC) deliberations.

It's worth a review if you can take the time to wade through it all.

One last thing. I called Tiffany to see if UNC can video these meetings so those that need to time-shift can keep in on the proceedings. She's looking into it. If they can't swing it maybe some kind person (or persons) can pick up the ball (maybe Chad and the People's Channel crew? Podcast wizard BrianR?).

Obviously, the effects will continue northward as some portion of 17,000 cars head north on MLK to I-40.

45K to 60K additional car trips is the conservative prediction. Layer on the current UNC employee demographic that has significant numbers of workers living North and West ( out into Alamance and beyond) and the you can see how traffic will spread out and ooze North and Northwest along Estes, Rogers Road, Homestead, Eubanks, etc.

NCDOT has minimal requirements for carrying capacity of roads. With all the private development on the boards for the N and NW section of Chapel Hill it's pretty obvious that MLK and Weaver Dairy will have to be "beefed up" to handle Carolina North's anticipated traffic flows.

If the Town is going to deal honestly with UNC on Carolina North they'll have to start calculating its impact on those private projects - like RAM's Walgreen development on MLK - before approving them now. In other words, we know the shadow Carolina North is supposed to cast - lets start anticipating its impacts vis-a-vis current development.

OK, I know Town isn't so good on proactive. You can stop laughing now....

First of all, we don't know what the traffic flow to CN will be. The University discarded the 17,000 parking space figure from several years ago and said they were starting anew. Since they haven't unvailed those plans yet we don't know what new figure they have in mind. The University representatives on the Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC) also agreed to the principle that CN will be a transit-oriented community from the start and that public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes of travel will be the highest priority.

I think it's important that everything possible be done to raise the public visibility of this project and I think it's none too soon to be discussing it in as much detail as possible. But in all fairness to the University, we shouldn't be criticizing a proposal that they have repeatedly said is off the table. I'm certain that I'm not alone in hoping that they were listening to the LAC discussions and have incorporated as many of the community's suggestions as possible.

GeorgeC, I know they took it off the table along with all the parking decks ( my small part). My comment is oriented towards looking at as much of the developing picture as possible.

We'll see UNC's projections in the few months - hear their ideas on mitigating issues but, essentially, they'll be looking "close to home". I'm suggesting our Town needs to start factoring in the potential RANGE of impacts from Carolina North into our own internal planning process.

You're on the Planning Board and various transportation boards, from that perspective don't you think we need a richer model (I can hear Aaron groaning) to bounce traffic, environmental, etc. impacts of the on-going, planned and anticipated developments in this N/NW area?

Then, once the numbers start to firm, our Town's leadership will be prepared to make a more nuanced evaluation of their planning/developmental options.

The discussion about traffic on MLK from Carolina North must be considered with the Eubanks Rd Transfer Station discussion. The interchange at I40, MLK and Eubanks is already overloaded. I suggest that continued growth like adding 18 wheelers from the TS or CN to this interchange will cause major headaches in the future. My thought is we going to in for major reconstruction at this interchange and on MLK. As in so many things in our communities issues like CN relate to other issues.

A major question out there is what is UNC responsibilty in the waste disposal process argument? Does UNC have a site or sites that might work for a Transfer Station? Shouldn't they be a part of this discussion in light of current contribution to our county waste and the potential increase associated with Carolina North?


I agree that our long-range mobility planning needs to factor in both the proposed (of which there is already a good bit), as well as the potential (CN, transfer station, etc), growth along the MLK, Weaver Dairy, and Eubanks Rd corridors. All I'm asking here is that people not criticize UNC for a plan that they've publicly stated is now off the table. I, like everyone else, am anxiously awaiting to hear the details about their three draft concepts for CN.

While it's true we don't know exactly how much vehicle traffic will be generated by CN or how the area can adapt to CN growth over 50 years, more traffic will be on the way. Even if most of the new CN employees live at CN and there is light rail, more vehicles will use local roads. More people will need local resources (retail, food, recreation, etc). Greater demand will be placed on local services, on energy, on the environment, on public transit, etc.

I think CN could be a great for our towns, Orange County and the state. I am encouraged by the many discussions. I remain skeptical CN can be designed to have little or no effect on our community (the overall effect can be positive).

The same goes for the development of northern areas of our towns (and for Orange County). The CH council has decided to establish a group to take a look at future developments (as best as we can given the information currently available and current zoning). I agree with Will and think the committee should also consider the likely effects of CN.

I'm definitely concerned about the traffic, especially with regards to increased traffic through my neighborhood, which is often used a cut-through from the Estes/N. Greensboro intersection to Carrboro Plaza and points out 54 west.

Carolina North will likely also have a huge change in traffic patterns for people going anywhere from one end of Estes to another.

One of my co-workers recently moved from Durham to Laurin Easthom's neck of the woods (off Weaver Dairy Ext.).

He's been a bit nonplussed as he has discovered that his "commute" up MLK takes about the same amount of time though it is significantly shorter and that the wonderful forested barrier making the noise and light pollution spilling off MLK bearable is about to be clear cut by RAM Development.

This sans Carolina North.

what kind of infrsturture is going to have to be put in place for 18 wheelers going up and down the roads . i dont think dot will pay to upgrade the road . who pays for the upgrades to these roads? orange county tax payers and what if another county wants to haul there trash to our site and use it as a transfer stationdo u think orange county is going to turn away money i dont think so

While as George says above, we really don't yet know
what the impacts of CN will be because we don't yet have
a set of plans to discuss, UNC has done a good job of
publishing the principles and the process that produced
them. The LAC meetings were on TV, were covered
well by the media, and, after a slow and frsutrating start,
allowed all the stakeholders to express themselves.
The principles are fine in my opinion, and it will be
revealing to see how much the implementation will
reinforce or contradict them. I am confident however
that UNC will boldly publish the plans, so that anyone
interested will be able to see and react to them.

CN will have a major impact on Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
How CN is designed will determine the quality of the
impact. Stay tuned!

Will, tell your colleague to take the damn bus! There's good service to that area via several routes.

I am extremely concerned about CN's potential impact on Estes Drive Extension (the part from MLK to Greensboro Street). This area is already heavily traveled and completely hostile to bicycles and pedestrians.

If done right, CN could really help us in this area by creating and sustaining non-auto-oriented transportation infrastructure. The railroad running through the middle of this area could be an asset instead of a liability if it was accompanied by walkable hubs and good pedestrian connections between them. The new segment of the Bolin Creek Greenway could also help with this, especially for those of us on the south side of Estes.

I have to say I'm in the somewhat uncomfortable position of defending the University at this point of the discussion on Carolina North (CN). They haven't yet unveiled their plans and many people seem ready to dismiss them, or worse. I think that in the past I've been as cynical as most regarding the University's approach to CN but, having been a participant in the LAC process, I feel that the University has earned the right to an objective appraisal of whatever concepts they bring forward.

What really worries me is whether the public is prepared to put as much thought into the design and development of CN as befits a project which will have such a far-reaching impact on Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County for many, many years. I'm guessing that >100 thousand people will be potentially impacted by CN if you figure the populations of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, southern Orange County, and the Univerity population itself. And yet, I'll be surprised if the two meetings that UNC has scheduled on March 27th to unveil the first of their concept plans for CN draw more than 100 people between the two of them. If I'm right, and less than 0.1% of the affected population choose to come out to learn about the proposed development which may have the most far-reaching effects of any project proposed for our community over the next few decades, then how do we judge the University's efforts? Are the few who choose to be involved representative of the many? I don't have the answer but if anyone else does I'd love to hear it. I remember that the first public hearing for the Lot 5 Downtown Redevelopment Project in Chapel Hill drew 21 speakers (17 for; 4 against, by my recollection). So that project, one which many have described as having the most impact on Chapel Hill in years, drew a total of 21 citizens to speak.

The point I'm trying to make here is that the Town Council (and Board of Aldermen where Carrboro is involved) will have to make their decisions regarding CN based on their best analyses and their best interpretations of what the people want. Unless the people who will be affected take the time to get involved, become informed, and speak out to the University and their elected officials, those decisions will become increasingly more dificult and potentially more arbitrary.

GeorgeC, I once again spoke to UNC about scheduling more of these meetings and also doing a "road show".

As the last community outreach I had a pretty good conversation with them about using 3D models, considering attending community events/meetings with their presentation (like the Bolin Creek/NRG/CAN ;-) folks).

As I mentioned before, I've also asked them to consider video taping the already scheduled meetings and posting them on the 'net.

I'm glad you mentioned the existing Lot #5 outreach. Council missed an excellent opportunity to lead by example and go the extra mile in creating a conversation about the new face of Downtown with more than the "same old suspects" (of which I'm now a member).

One Council member met my suggestion that the Town also do a "roadshow" with disdain. How hard would it have been to setup a table at University Mall with some cardboard models showing the existing Downtown and the planned Lot #5/Greenbridge/Shortbread/etc. ? I've seen it done elsewhere? For that matter, how difficult would've of been to do it on the website using GoogleEarth?

On Carolina North, the North/Northwest development, etc. we need a new game plan for community outreach. We need to involve those folks - as you pointed out earlier - that don't have the inclination to come to planning board, design committee, Council meetings and directly - actively engage them. I think we owe those citizens that courtesy given they're going to have to pick up the tab for the consequences.

Finally, along the lines of bettering communication there are a few practical steps Council could take that I've wanted for awhile:

1) Planning board meetings need to be video taped

1a) GOOD audio recordings of other development related meetings need to be recorded.

2) Agendas, supplementary material and minutes for development related boards need to be prepared,produced and published in a timely fashion.

2a) Council agendas involving development need to be produced in a more timely fashion (same thing Mark Peters suggested for the BOCC): soft agenda 30 days out, supplementary materials/firm agenda 7 days before the hearings.

2b) Minutes need to be approved and published within 45 days.

3) Require electronic versions of development plans/documents. Publish this material on the website. Other localities require Autocad DXF models of developments, why not us?

4) Active engagement with the community. Our storm water folks go out and do road shows, why not something similar for these large projects?

5) More manpower/resources for the Clerks office which is swamped.

If we do #1 the problem with timely minutes shrinks (but doesn't go away).

If we do #2 the public will have a halfway decent chance of responding.

If we do #3 then folks, like myself, can go ahead and model the site footprints. It is difficult to visualize the envelopes and impacts of some of these projects - we need to avail ourselves of modern tools to help evaluate.

#4 is a tough one when you consider pulling in more input might derail your plans. For instance, I've now spoken to more than a dozen folks that were horrified by TC-3's implications and felt blindsided by our current process. It means it takes more effort to sell your vision, so the inclination, I think, is not to make the consequences clear. It takes some character to risk your vision being trashed because you open it up but, at least I think, it is the right thing to do.

As far as #5, I'm over at the Clerk's quite often. I'm impressed that they manage to stem the tide at all. It seems to me they could use more help - especially if we try to produce more timely records of relevant meetings.

I have a slew of other ideas on how to engage the public - won't continue to bore folks with them now...

This may have been suggested already (I have difficulty wading through Will's posts) but UNC could get a better turnout holding their unveiling at the Friday Center or Memorial Hall or almost anywhere besides the IOG.

Does IOG have facilities to tape these presentasions for rebroadcast as was done with the LAC?

Does UNC have any plans for citizens to have access to audio and video of the presentations if they cannot attend?

My understanding is that they contracted with an outside vendor to do the original LAC recordings. I suggested tapping either some of their on campus talent or maybe the folks at the Peoples Channel to help out.

I'll be making a rough video of the events I attend - if I can attend.


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