Carolina North Utility Work to Begin

This story appeared in the Sept 11th Chapel Hill News.

We are not out of the recession yet, but with a Corps of Engineers permit in hand, UNC is busy getting the utilities in the ground for a new campus, Carolina North. Judging from the University’s announcement released last week, a great deal of land could potentially be cleared outside the airport footprint, affecting forests on the large 1000 acre tract in northern Chapel Hill and Carrboro. A large area up to 40 feet wide extending between Homestead Road to UNC Facilities south of Estes Drive has begun to be cleared to install utilities including electricity, and a pipe pumping methane gas from the landfill.

How is the public to comment on these plans? Normally local elected officials are the last resort for raising local concerns. However, the Carolina North Development Agreement, a contract Chapel Hill between the University, set the specific development terms for the new campus, including a compact building footprint and the preservation for many acres if forests and creeks in the Bolin Creek watershed in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Ten years of community input led up to these final negotiations, but no part of the agreement provides for public hearings. When the contract was signed in June 2009, the Chapel Hill Town Council agreed with Neighbors for Responsible Growth and committed to a participation plan for how public input would be gained as the campus is built out.

The University is facing renewed budget cuts and there’s no guarantee that anything will be built for a long time. A 40 foot wide duct bank isn’t going to grow jobs, but it is going to cut down a lot of trees.

Now that the site is active again, it’s time for the Town Council to put in place a vehicle for the public to review and comment on the information that the Town Manager receives from the University and give that input to our elected officials in our Towns.

I encourage all those who care about stream and forest protection of this 1000 acre resource to attend the University’s information session on September 13 at 5:15 pm at Town Hall and to ask questions and learn more.  At UNC, contact Diane Gillis, (919) 962-9047, Diane.Gillis@facilities.unc.edu.

CN Utilities Map

2 Responses to Carolina North Utility Work to Begin

  1. Thanks for posting the questions Julie and I worked on. I have another question, and it relates to the duct bank as well. The 2011 CN report was just released and it states the following:

    “The purpose of this project is to serve the Giles Horney Building Complex with more reliable power.”

    The Giles Horney Building isn’t even on the CN footprint. Why should UNC be permitted to cut a 40 foot wide gaping swath through the Forest to serve a building that’s outside the development agreement?

    Maybe I’m missing something obvious…or maybe not…?

  2. hey NRG folks,

    these seem like all great questions. but perhaps you might think about ordering them a little differently. they read, as they stand now, sort of scattershot. i wonder if it wouldn’t be better to move up questions like #s 11, 5, and 8, and insist that those get answered first. i mean, if there is no answer to those, then there is no reason this ductbank can / should be built. those are the ones that need explaining, and, i think, the ones we should focus attention on — at least initially. doing so might help make clear just how deep the opposition to this project is amongst the community.

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