I am not sure that we are starting out on the right foot with Carolina North’s approval process. Without getting into the detail of the Innovation Center’s location change, or when it was first shown to the “community” in a University sponsored meeting, what is most bothersome are references made to the LAC by Bruce Runberg and now Mark Crowell (the latter in a letter to the Chapel Hill News.) They both have said “This project was also identified as likely moving toward a special-use-permit…..LAC members raised no objections to the center during these deliberations.”
When I first argued pretty strongly a long time ago that the Town should go ahead and participate as a member in the Leadership Advisory Committee in order to open the doors of communication early in this process, I also made the point that whatever the Town says or doesn’t say in this committee is not anything that can be used against the Town; is not something qualifying as the Town’s official position (without full council discussion); or is BINDING in any way. We have to remember this was a University committee, and it was the Town’s choice to participate.
It is disappointing that the University’s representatives are starting up what I hoped would not happen: whatever was not said or not complained about is determined to be OK because there was no stated objection (by the LAC). Was the LAC only ammunition to use as they come forward with their proposals? Bruce Runberg had apparently gone back to “check the minutes” of the LAC meeting sometime before he officially came before the council last week. Because the LAC did not raise objection to this is absolutely not a statement by the community that it is okay to proceed. What else will the University do next? At an NRG forum a few weeks ago, someone in the audience asked the Town panel present “do you trust the University?” I thought it an excellent question, but it required a complex answer. I said something to the tune of “we’ll have to see through the process.” The process has started, but with what happened last week, I’d have to answer that question a little differently. I hope we can get a better start next time around, as I look forward to making Carolina North a good project for both the University and the Town.