Monday, June 18, 2007

Snakes in the Grass

News has filtered out of Raleigh that Appalachian State University is shopping for a state rep to move a local bill to exempt the university -- and all state universities? -- from local ordinances that might stand in their way ... "their way" being the taking of whatever property they want and the putting up of whatever structure they desire ... local neighborhoods be damned!

This news is all the more interesting because the university has chosen to go around the backs of our local elected representatives.

This move has to do with ASU's frustration over not being able to put up a huge new college of education where it isn't wanted by taking the property of at least one elderly woman and ignoring Boone's rules on setbacks, height, parking, and compatibility with the neighborhood.

And since they're in the business of teaching good citizenship to young people, the ASU administration has managed to spoon-feed their resentments against the Town of Boone to the ASU Student Government, which doesn't understand the issues involved. The ASU SGA has mounted a petition against the town in an effort to rile up students. Apparently, if the town insists on its rules for development, it is somehow anti-student.

The University administration has sold the line to the students that if ASU doesn't get to build its College of Education in precisely that spot, they will have to go up on student fees. Why? To pay for their own blunder. ASU entered into contracts to pay roughly $4.5 million for .689 acre BEFORE they had approached the town to rezone the property. And when the town turned down the request, ASU went ahead with the purchase anyway.

But the ASU administration has lied to the students (no over verb adequately conveys the depth of their cynicism) that they had talked to the town prior to these land transactions and were told that all was hunky-dory. Not so.

Now ASU wants state government in Raleigh to get them out of their own mess by legislating a huge exemption for their every whim. Every other small N.C. town that hosts a huge state university is possibly also threatened by this back-door deal and preferential laws.

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