Neighbors wary of HPU expansion

Nov. 14, 2013 @ 06:29 PM

Not everyone is cheering High Point University’s proposed expansion.

Several residents who live near the three sites HPU is seeking to rezone attended Tuesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, where the cases were heard. Some were there to oppose the rezoning requests. Others weren’t, but they had plenty of questions.
Adrienne Middlebrooks, who lives across E. Farriss Avenue from one of the proposed expansion areas, said she wasn’t opposed to HPU’s growth, but has concerns about the noise, lights and construction traffic that campus activity can generate.  
“I understand growth facilitates change. We the residents deserve respect from the city. We must live with these changes before and after,” she said. “It is a beautiful place, but there’s an ‘us-and-them’ atmosphere. It’s a gated community for them, not us.”
The commission recommended approval of the rezonings, which HPU is seeking to enable it to build a proposed school of pharmacy and health sciences, an undergraduate sciences building, new student housing and parking.
The requests are scheduled to be heard by the City Council on Monday.
Middlebrooks said she would like to see better communication between the university and its neighbors regarding its future growth areas.
“I’ve been there 21 years. My family grew up in that neighborhood. It would be nice if we could co-exist. I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” she said.
David Brauns, who lives within the block of E. Farriss Avenue that HPU is seeking to rezone, said he has resisted selling his home to the university because he hasn’t received what he considers a fair offer.
“We are subjected to their parties and noise,” Brauns said. “The lighting has been horrible. The light shines through the kitchen window.”
HPU Vice President and Chief of Staff Chris Dudley said having good relationships with surrounding neighborhoods and the community as a whole is important to the university.
“We’ve purchased hundreds of commercial and residential properties and we’ve tried to be as fair as possible in what we pay for each one,” Dudley said. “Any call we ever get from a neighbor who’s been inconvenienced, we take those calls extremely seriously and respond as quickly as we can.”
Brauns backed this up, saying, “I will give them kudos on resolving issues.”
Willis McCoy, who spoke to the commission on behalf of several residents from the neighborhood surrounding the 8.3-acre site at N. Centennial Street and Montlieu Avenue, where HPU is considering building a parking lot, said this would be incompatible with a residential area.
“What are they going to leave for the neighbors that didn’t get an opportunity to sell?” he said.
HPU officials have pledged to work with the city in updating long-range growth plans, so that the public might have a better idea of where the future expansions will take place.
“We need to grow, and we feel like that is something very positive for the city,” Dudley said. “I think all High Pointers can feel good and confident that what HPU does architecturally would create an enhancement to an area.”
pkimbrough@hpe.com | 888-3531