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Developer questions councilman's open mind, alleges trespassing
The condominium proposal that ended in a fiery showdown last spring between former mayor Kevin Foy and developer Carol Ann Zinn recently
reignited over alleged trespassing by Councilman Ed Harrison and a state
official on Zinn’s land.
Harrison said he and Misty
Buchanan, a botanist with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program, visited the land
in February where Zinn had proposed the 58-unit Aydan
Court townhouse project. With
permission, they had joined a group of consultants hired by UNC-Chapel Hill to
assess the natural resources on adjacent land owned by the university and
intended for the expansion of the Kenan-Flagler business school’s PaulJ.RizzoConferenceCenter.
“I said, ‘I think we’re moving off UNC property,’” said Harrison. “They knew this. I told them. I was not the one
who did the wandering. They did.”
Two weeks after the second of two visits, Zinn’s lawyer
Michael Brough wrote a letter to Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos complaining that
Harrison might not be able to consider the merits of any future proposal for
Zinn’s land “without having a fixed opinion prior to hearing the matter,” as
required by law.
Karpinos agreed that a council member can’t independently investigate
property under review for a permit without making the developer aware but
since Zinn hasn’t submitted a new proposal, Harrison
was in compliance. Anyone can walk on someone else’s land unless the owner
tells them otherwise, as with a “No Trespassing” sign, Karpinos said.
“There’s no rule about prohibiting people from looking when
there’s not a pending application,” said Karpinos. “If there is a pending application
and council members go out and look at the property they’re supposed to make a
note of that and make it a part of the hearing proceeding. … You need to
acknowledge that you’ve done it so that it can be part of the record.”
That gives applicants a chance to explain information a
council member might learn and act upon, Karpinos said.
Brough said Harrison’s site
visit “coupled with his previously strong opposition to … any development in
close proximity to the Upper Little Creek Waterfowl Impoundment, is not
One of the reasons the council rejected Aydan Court was its potential stormwater runoff
from steep slopes in the area, also a concern for the Rizzo expansion. Harrison said Buchanan’s report could impact any permit
application in that area, but he didn’t learn anything in his visit that he
didn’t already know from the Aydan