County Commisssioners adopt new Comprehensive Plan


Tuesday, November 18, 2008 - 2:30pm


Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill
County Commissioners to consider adoption of the Comprehensive Plan with revisions.

Agenda materials will be posted on the County’s website, prior to each of the above meetings, under “Meeting Agendas”.


The Coalition's position statement is found on it's website along with more background information. Our main problem is the process under which the plan was developed. The Planning Board did not have time to consider all the public comments they received within their designated meeting time this summer. The shortcuts selected to overcome this problem shortchanged those who took the time to engage in the process. Two Coalition members conveyed these and other concerns to the Commissioners at their Nov. 6 meeting. More detail about our concerns are found in a short article where we note the difference between token public participation and citizen power. 

FYI, it appears the Commissioners intend to adopt the proposed plan on Nov. 18. On Nov. 6 Commissioner Jacobs indicated that opportunities to re-examine the public comments may be possible during the plan implementation phase. Other than that not much is known about the implementaion process other than what is found on pages 10-12 of the proposed plan's first chapter, which happens to call for adopting "within the first year of plan adoption" a tall work order:

"A set of evaluation criteria, including a set of sustainability and community building indicators, or metrics, together with specific action statements will be developed for each Plan Element by each Element Advisory Board with assistance of County staff"


Allan Rosen


What is your take from your understanding of the Plan?


Mark, each of the plan's seven core chapters includes a needs assessment section. I've not checked to see if a need for a rural airport was identified in any chapter, but I doubt it. You can access each chapter individually online if need be to check for yourself. Start with the Economic Development & Services and Facilities chapters.

Each chapter also includes a list of Goals and Objectives, and I don't recall mention of an airport in any objective either.  

FYI, the plan is not yet a plan.This is by design. The County Commissioners, Planning Department, and Planning Board intend to convert this document into a plan during the implementation phase, likely to begin early next year.

IMHO, the plan is full of shortcomings. I'm concerned that the plan will do little to change the status quo (high cost of housing, anemic commerical tax base, etc.) if concerned citizens are not constructively engaged in the implementation phase.

Allan Rosen

....other than RDU is mentioned in the document. Neither is there any reference to a county airport/jetport in the "Five Year Stratigic Plan"

The five year plans does mention as two of the "wonderful assets" that are attactive about Orange County:

  • proximity to two major airports
  • "location approximately midway between the Piedmont Triad and the heart of the Research Triangle, with interstate highway connections to both"

I pointed this out to Brad Broadwell in an email exchange last month. Not much success, as he seems to have taken offence when I suggested it was part of his job to be informed about the issue before making statements to the press. As in aside, the thin skin for criticism seems odd for someone in his position and who has made the public statements he has been credited with, so I suspect he just did not want to have the conversation.

Interesting that, despite the fact that siting an airport in Orange County is an issue that has been discussed going back a couple of decades, the Comprehensive Plan has purposefully omitted adding a new airport. This demonstrates good planning on the part of our local representatives and staff. We have always recognized the inherent value of our rural lands as agricultural and ecological treasures. Will wise local planning prevail over the business special interests piggy-backing on UNC's ham-handed airport project?

I am sure the BOCC are relieved not to have an airport on their plate as they deal with a comprehensive plan. It will be interesting to see if the airport special interests (who ever they are) can succeed using UNC as the front for their effort. I can't imagine that the University is all that thrilled about being point person, even with the relief that would come from closing Horace Williams.

There is good reason for the White Cross people to be worried if an airport is really proposed. There is no where else in Orange that a airport could be put without substantial costs for building a runway.

Everybody can relax, however, with things the way they are: an economy in the toilet and University budgets threatened by drops in State revenue. If the economy comes back and Carolina North takes off, look out White Cross.

The Chapel Hill News reported that Jim Heavner of Vilcom and J. Adam Abram of the James River Group met secretly with Moeser and convinced him to fund an economic benefits study & even contributed $15,000 apiece to the $100,000 study.

And Special Interest Hall of Famer Roger Perry is the Chair of the UNC Board of Trustees.

still fly his plane out of Horace Williams?

I don't check the FlightAware website daily or even weekly (depends on what I'm hearing overhead sometimes) and have been out of town a lot lately, but have seen his company's plane noted in arrivals/departures since the summer. No reason whatever to think he's relocated his plane (or planes? - very hard to tell from n-number registration lists who actually owns and uses a plane).

Re: the comprehensive plan: IMHO the only reason to expect explicit notice of an airport in a plan like this would be if it were a done deal with full county support and enthusiasm. The absence of any notice simply means that the issue is not part of planning-for-public-consumption as yet. That isn't necessarily good news, but it may just be no news.

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CityCHAPEL HILL StateNORTH CAROLINA  Zip Code    27514-1660
So I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone can make the case with a straight face that a new airport falls squarely under UNC's stated  mission to educate.
They can do that the same way that they do when justifying $50 million in improvements for Kenan stadium while many faculty and staff struggle under this faltering economy.

It is my understanding  that the Kenan Stadium project will be  funded through private contributions.   You or I may not like what other people  choose to donate their money to,  but UNC cannot redirect restricted funds for other uses. I sure would not want them redirecting my paltry contibution to the Arts and Sciences scholarship fund. 

Funding from the state legislature cannot go toward the support, maintenance, or construction of athletic facilities. There is no competition between budgets for academics and athletics.


In the State budget passed in the last session there was $50 million allocated for Kenan upgrades. My memory is that there was another $25 million or so for other athleti facilities and then about another $50 million for academic (?) pursuits. I'm sure someone who has a better memory than I can correct me if I'm wrong but I distincly remember the $50 million for Kenan.

Calling it an educational foundation is a bit of a strech IMO!


Kenan Stadium Expansion

(last updated Friday, November 14, 2008)
Office space, end zone enclosure, press box renovations
Total Projected Budget: $50,000,000  
Fund Sources: Fund Raising-Educational Foundation: $50,000,000  
UNC Design Manager:K. Snead919-843-2087
UNC Construction Manager:unassigned
Design:UnderwaySunday, July 01, 2007
Projected Bid Date:    
Projected Start Construction Date: Monday, March 09, 2009
Projected Construction Completion Date: Monday, August 17, 2009

I did a cost-benefit analysis of the Florida State football program when I was in graduate school. It amazed me how much money their program brought into the university and to the community. Plus there are long-term life benefits for all the players and their families.

I don't know what the payback period is for the $50m on Kenan, probably not as short as it would be on the Dean Dome, but as long as the funds are not coming from tuition resources, faculty/staff salaries, or research, I suspect it's an economic investment in Chapel Hill's economy.

the team matters in the ACC. "Field of Dreams" and Kevin Costner notwithstanding, I think the old adage "if you build it they will come" applies more to the team than the stadium.

The University is also narrowing the road between Manning and South Road and adding streetscaping. Should we eliminate that project? Streetscaping doesn't contribute to education, and unlike Kenan, it won't generate any revenue for the town or the university. It will generate jobs though, just like the stadium renovations. Were all those public works jobs during the 1940s (WPA) frivolous or did they create jobs and help pull the country out of a deep recession? Do students really need high tech classrooms to learn or are those projects frivolous as well?


In the same way that daylighting in schools has been proven to improve learning retention. Our environment has a documented impact on our lives.
I try my best to keep up with the educational literature and have seen several studies that point out the benefits of daylighting, but I have never seen anything that correlates streetscaping with enhanced academic learning. I'd love to see your references.
If you buy in to the research (I do) that more complete streetscaping encourages walking, biking, and more generally spending time in outdoor spaces, I don't think it would be hard at all to connect this increased use with an enhanced academic environment.  Everything from a greater perception of comfort and safety, more human interaction, and perhaps a lessened impact of "nature deficit disorder" come to mind as possible benefits to learning.

The $50 million for Kenan (authorized by the same bill that set up the airport authority) is NOT state funds, it is an authorization to expend that much, to be fronted by a special obligation bond, but repaid by gifts, grants, ticket sales, student fees, etc (ignore the Medicare reference, it is not relevant to Kenan but is boilerplate because some of the authorized projects are medical facilities).


SECTION 1.1.  The purpose of this act is: (i) to authorize the construction by certain constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina of the capital improvements projects listed in the act for the respective institutions, and (ii) to authorize the financing of these projects with funds available to the institutions from gifts, grants, receipts, liquidating indebtedness, Medicare reimbursements for education costs, or other funds, or any combination of these funds, but not including funds received for tuition or appropriated from the General Fund of the State." (emphasis added by me, your humble drafter of that bill)


Is why are so many alumni more interested in seeing an amazing athletic product than an amazing academic product?


Sure, people can contribute how they like.  But adding more seats to a 60K seat stadium?

From a public relations standpoint, a $50 million investment in Kenan Stadium appears frivolous no matter where the money came from, or how it's earmarked.  These are hard times.  One could argue that this project is an economy booster, but that's not what people see.  They see a refurbished football stadium, same as they saw green athletic fields during the drought.  Incidentally, the Rams Club's formal name is Educational Foundation...
I have no trouble believing that streetscaping enhances education.  The key word is "enhance," which refers to the experience of being there.  Maybe there's a study saying more students drop out of ugly schools than pretty ones.  I didn't say "flunk out" because that's a different proposition having to do with academic achievement.  Streetscaping/landscaping almost certainly influences college shoppers, increases applications and enrollment choices. 

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