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UNC Building Proposal Gets Chilly Reception From Community

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina wants to build an air-conditioning plant and parking deck in the middle of a historic district in Chapel Hill. People living nearby are not very happy with the proposed plan.

The Old Chapel Hill Cemetery sits in the shadow of the looming construction project.

Rebecca Clark, 87, worries the project will turn this peaceful spot into a dumping ground.

"I have a lot of family here, she said.

While keen on preserving the past, she also respects progress.

"I know the university has to expand," Clark said.

The increase in traffic on Country Club Road is one of the biggest concerns people have with the 21,000-square-foot North East Chiller Building and 600-space parking deck.

The university said it is trying to address the issue. Its plan includes widening lanes and adding a stoplight and four crosswalks.

Residents said it is not enough.

"We feel just putting up a traffic light -- it's too many cars in too little space," resident Nancy Whittington said.

The historic Gimghoul District nearby is lined with stately houses and graceful gardens. Neighbors worry about the impact the plant and parking deck may have on their lives.

"We've seen people do outrageous things -- going in other lanes just because they're in a hurry. They fly down this street looking for a way out. It's not just about the inconvenience of the traffic, it's about the safety of the traffic," Whittington said.

Those who live here and those who work here are looking to strike a balance between meeting the needs of a growing university and preserving the peace and past that give character to this part of the town.

The town council is expected to vote on the facility next month.


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