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Chapel Hill Residents Upset Over Proposed Use Of Land Near UNC

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Talk is already taking off about a "north campus" at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the present site of its Horace Williams airport. Before that happens, the school has another project on a piece of land connected to the airport, which is getting a lot of turbulence from neighbors.

When UNC-Chapel Hill announced plans to close its airport, the focus shifted away from complaints about noise pollution to how the university will develop the 975-acre tract. Those plans remain in the preliminary stages, but the school's plans for what it wants to do with a 23-acre piece of land south of the airport has people in Elkin Hills fired up.

"What we would like to see is the university to think through an entire plan for the Horace Williams tract that is really sensitive to the surrounding community," said Fred Stang, who opposes the project.

The University wants to use land next to an existing physical plant for a fueling station, printing plant, vehicle and equipment repair shops, offices, 160 parking spaces plus chemical, fertilizer and landscaping equipment storage areas.

"We have an established facility-services complex there and this is simply an extension to the west of similar services," said UNC spokeswoman Caroline Elfland.

UNC said it has revised its plans in the past few days, putting the proposed complex further from homes and increasing the amount of woods serving as a buffer area. Elkin Hills residents who gathered Wednesday to discuss the plans do not think that revision will work either.

"The bigger issue is there are problems, other locations that would be convenient to the university that would not affect our neighborhood or other neighborhoods," Stang said.

UNC-Chapel Hill officials say they want to move the support facilities off-campus, so it can make more room on campus for research and classroom buildings.