Joint Policy Meeting Regarding Carolina North


Thursday, September 25, 2008 - 3:00pm


Friday Center, Chapel Hill

This is interesting. I may have missed the announcement of this high-level negotiating process between UNC Trustees and the Chapel Hill Town Council. It's not clear to me whether it's open to the public, or if we just get to watch the highlights later.

Report from Joint Policy Meeting Regarding Carolina North: An update was given on the process to plan a future joint meeting of the Town Council and University Trustees to develop a process for considering Carolina North. A special meeting of the Council will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the UNC-Chapel Hill Friday Center. The meeting will include Roger Perry, chair of the University Board of Trustees; Bob Winston, chair of the University's Buildings and Properties Committee; and Chancellor Holden Thorp. Information will be posted on the Town website for the public. The meeting will be videotaped to be played later on Chapel Hill Government TV 18 and by streaming video on the Town website at

- Chapel Hill eNews

I wonder if they will take the bus there, in honor of TryTransit week.


Council Member Jim Ward, who heads up the Council subcommittee (Jim Ward, Laurin Easthom, Matt Czajkowski, Bill Thorpe) working on establishing the process for negotiating a development agreement between the Town and UNC-CH, announced the meeting at the Council's public hearing last Wednesday and again last evening at the Council's business meeting. It is open to the public since it is considered an official Council meeting. Future meetings will alternate between Town sites and UNC sites.

The University would like to see an agreement in place before the Council adjourns for the summer since many of the University's current BOT will be replaced in July and next fall there will be Council elections. Jim Ward and other Council members agreed that such an aggressive deadline will be formidable. Interestingly, Jim mentioned that although only Roger Perry (Chair of the BOT) and a limited number of trustees will be participating, Roger said that they would be speaking for the whole BOT. This seemed to be received with some skepticism by several Council members.

Last night when Council member Ward presented the information, he indicated that although only Roger Perry (Chair of the BOT) and a limited number of trustees will be participating, Roger said that they would be speaking for the whole BOT.  I think the reasons for this are very practical.  If they want to meet monthly, it might be difficult to get the entire BOT to Chapel Hill for these meetings.  If the BOT empowers a subgroup to act on their behalf, why the skepticism?

The timeline also has to do with expiring terms.  There are 13 members of the BOT, eight appointed by the BOG (the 32 voting members of the Board of Governors are all elected by the General Assembly for four-year terms), four by the Governor, and the student body president.  The terms of a majority expire on July 1st of odd numbered years, and the BOG will appoint four, the Governor two, and the UNC-Chapel Hill student body will have elected a new president. Time is of the essence, I would think. 

Also, I didn't fully understand Council member Strom's, "this is a formula for getting our clocks cleaned."


I suspect (only suspect, mind you) that what Bill might have been suggesting is that unless there is something in writing stipulating that whatever agreements Roger Perry might make with the Council are legally binding upon the whole BOT, then the Council could negotiate in good faith only to have the BOT renege upon those agreements later on. I think it was even mentioned in last night's discussion that Roger is, I believe, the only trustee from Chapel Hill and that many of the other trustees, who have no direct ties to this town or to this area, might not have the same understanding of the local town/gown relationships nor might they be as favorably inclined as Roger to try to foster those relationships.

I don't think this is an unreasonable concern. I expect that the BOT would not (probabably could not) give Roger the authority to enter any legally-binding agreement on their behalf. Hence the potential concern and dilemma - how do you negotiate in good faith with someone who cannot "close the deal"?

I suspect that when the deal needs to be closed, Roger will be able to do it if the BOT members have empowered him to do so. Then, you get a legally binding agreement, whatever that specifically means when we are talking about two entities of the State of North Carolina.

As long as everything is couched as "we vs. they" and we never get to "us," and "us" doesn't get moving with a sense of trust, then it probably will be the next BOT and Town Council who will work to close the deal. 

 BTW, three BOT members live in Chapel Hill, and one each in Raleigh and Durham.


I agree that 'we' needs to become 'us' and that there needs to be a sense of trust between all parties. I think at least some of this sense of distrust goes back to the South Columbia road improvements fiasco in which the University went behind the Town's back to request that NCDOT delay the start of those improvements in order to "revise" the plan that the Town and University had previously agreed upon (after years of negotiation). That left a bad taste in a lot of mouths. And it's easy to say "let bygones be bygones" but if you're an elected official who will have to answer to the electorate should another fiasco occur you probably think long and hard before sticking your neck out too far.

I'm hoping that Chancellor Thorp and Roger Perry can lead the way to a new era in Town/Gown relationships but I'm not sure what the first step will have to be to convince everyone to join them.

Council members were advised last night that these are to be Council meetings with the Chancellor and a few trustees as guests. The meeting location will alternate between UNC and Town buidings. I asked Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos to clarify that there are no legal requirements for these meetings beyond the fact they will get public notice (and, of course, be open to all to attend). There are to be public comment periods at the end of each meeting.  

If you want to know what Bill Strom meant by his statement will have to ask him yourself.  


The council is not unified in their opinions about CN, you can be sure that UNC is. If every time a council member says something it is undercut by another council member the town's position will be weak. So getting from "we vs. they" to "us" will  not be easy since "we" is in disarray.....

While the last little while has been somewhat encouraging in terms of "town/gown"; the creation of the airport authority doesn't seem like a giant step toward "us"....... 


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