WILMINGTON -- Some UNCW students want university leaders to reconsider plans for development. There are plans to build four buildings for on-campus housing and a parking deck. Those will be built on what is currently 15 acres of forest that some students don't want to see gone. Lauren Thompson and Leanna Lucore are UNCW students against building on 15 acres of forest on campus. Lucore's sweatshirt says it all. Thompson said, "Our main concern is loss of a habitat. It's one of the last ones because it is a sand hill long leaf pine area and it has high biodiversity." Construction is scheduled to begin in April on a parking deck as well as four three-story buildings similar to this one that will house nearly 700 students. Thompson learned about the environmental issue in a conservation biology class. Thompson said, "We'd like to involve the community because we know they use this area. School groups are brought into this area from the community; so many people walk their dogs on the weekends, during the day." Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pat Leonard said, "The university, in response, takes those questions and those issues to heart by all means, but very much having to deal with the fact that we have an obligation to the community to grow our university." UNCW has the lowest square footage per student in the UNC system. It faces the challenge of needing to house the growing number of students while being environmentally friendly. UNCW student Sarajane Alexander said, "I think what's most upsetting to some students is this college is supposed to be or has a lot to do with environmental studies." Thompson says she and other concerned students aren't against expanding campus, just doing so at the expense of this forest. Wednesday night a forum gave students the chance to voice concerns to university officials. It cleared up some confusion students may have had about the development. The construction will go on as planned.
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