Much-discussed plans for a two-story CVS in downtown Carrboro will be back before town leaders Tuesday night.
The pharmacy bigbox's latest plans for a 24,590 square-foot store at the intersection of Greensboro and Weaver streets are likely to draw the usual share of ire from some Carrboro protesters, who argue the store will clog the town's center with traffic congestion, destroy historic homes and otherwise disrupt town life.
CVS officials say their current location near Carr Mill Mall is too small to support demand in the Orange County town.
Pharmacy plans have been through various phases, although the slight modifications in the newest CVS plan, which include a small partially enclosed park and a reduction in parking spaces from 65 to 61, don't seem likely to satiate the store's chief critics.
Tuesday's meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall. View the meeting agenda here.
After years of much-bemoaned inactivity on the touchy subject of Rogers Road, leaders in Orange County seem to be on the move these days.
Two weeks ago, Orange County commissioners passed a sweeping resolution to pledge $500,000 for a long-sought community center in the low-income neighborhood vexed by an aging landfill. That comes after Chapel Hill leaders closed neighbors' makeshift community center on Rogers Road last month over numerous fire safety concerns.
Tonight, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen will take up a proposal to provide public sewer to the community.
Extending sewer service to Rogers Road residents would cost approximately $5.8 million, according to the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA). It's unclear how leaders in Orange County, Chapel Hill and Carrboro will divvy up the cost.
The sewer proposal comes from a task force of local government leaders and members of the Rogers-Eubank Neighborhood Association (RENA). Cost-sharing plans include dividing up expenses based on population, landfill usage and tax revenues.
There has been no consensus yet on how to pay the sewer bill, but officials acknowledge the need. Rogers Road residents blame health ailments and polluted water on the landfill, which was built prior to more modern regulations requiring dump lining to prevent harmful contents from seeping into the groundwater.
Rogers Road has been the landfill site for local governments for 40 years, after initially agreeing to house the dump for a decade. Leaders have postponed closing the landfill for years. County commissioners now say they will shut down the site next year.
Tonight's Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall.
Carrboro planners may have rebuffed a Family Dollar developer's designs for settling in an Alabama Avenue historic neighborhood, but local opponents of the discount store aren't breaking out the party hats and streamers just yet.
"We've been having these small victories," said community resident Anissa McLendon. "But we can't celebrate 100 percent, maybe we can celebrate about 80 percent."
McLendon, along with a band of fired-up neighbors, has led protests and even a march to stymie Raleigh-based builder Will Stronach's plans to build a 8,100-square-foot Family Dollar in the largely residential community.
The discount store would be built on less than an acre near the intersection of Alabama Avenue and Jones Ferry Road. Residents in the tightly-knit Alabama Avenue community have been largely unified for more than a year in their quest to jettison Family Dollar plans.
McLendon's guarded optimism comes after Carrboro Development Review Administrator Marty Roupe wrote in a July 20 letter that a builder plan to pipe drainage water off of the Alabama Avenue site clashes with town ordinances that development "shall conform to the natural contours of the land and natural drainage ways shall remain undisturbed."
By piping the drainage off-site, the builder hoped to avoid town rules requiring Stronach receive a variance from town regulations on an ephemeral stream, a temporary waterway created by precipitation. Carrboro land maps denote one such stream on the Alabama Avenue plot.
The builder contends a pipe running beneath a nearby convenience store "artificially" increases the flow on the Alabama Avenue tract, and that piping the flow to the town's drainage system on Jones Ferry Road would render the variance unnecessary.
Carrboro staff would not give their blessing.
The decision is the latest snag for Family Dollar, a Matthews-based chain that residents worried would beget heavy traffic and crime for the neighborhood. In June, Stronach—who did not return an Indy phone call this week—withdrew his application after the Carrboro Board of Adjustment rejected the stream variance. Reps for the builder have been inquiring about his options with town staff in the weeks since.
Following Family Dollar's latest defeat, McLendon said Tuesday that locals hope the developer gets the message. "Maybe they will just go find another lot that would be suitable for their needs," she said.
Family Dollar foes hope to deal another blow to the proposal in September, which is when officials on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen are expected to consider rezoning the Alabama Avenue tract for residential uses. The move would require any future commercial development plans go before the town's elected leaders for rezoning.
Update: Tuesday, July 24: Weaver Street officials say the tree expert was hopeful; he painted on some pesticide to stop insects getting in the tree's wounds.
Update, Friday at 4:15 p.m.: A Carr Mill Mall representative is having a tree expert assess the damage. There isn't a full report yet, but check the Triangulator blog next week for details.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m. Thursday, lightning struck an oak tree on the east side of the lawn at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, stripping the bark from part of one side. Wood chips flew about 20 feet and hit the front window of the market, a cashier said.
After an epic drive from Durham during the storm, I pulled into the Carr Mill parking lot about three minutes after the strike.
A woman in Carr Mill was holding bark from the tree; she told me the "sky lit up, the thunder sounded like a sonic boom and wood flew everywhere."
People gathered around the tree and took photos. A lawn regular, Bruce Thomas, is pictured here leaning against it.
He later embraced it and said, "I love you tree."
The Howard and Lillian Lee Scholars Charter School is a long shot to open in August. Its founders are struggling to find a suitable temporary location for the school as they navigating the zoning approval process for a permanent site.
Amid opposition from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board and the local NAACP, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved fast-track status for the Lee School in February, clearing the way for the group to open later this year.
But now, as a backup plan, they say, the school’s brass has submitted a request to the state to open in 2013.
Danita Mason-Hogans, a member of the Lee board of directors, said the group identified one site in Chapel Hill and one in Carrboro but neither area was zoned for a school. She said she did not know the exact locations.
“There are some problems with both of the spaces based on the number of students we’d like to have in the school,” she said. “We had full intentions of opening in August. Now it looks like that may be put on hold.”
Talk of teaming up, including a possible merger, riled the community for 18 months. The Raleigh-based YMCA of the Triangle, which runs a dozen Piedmont-area YMCAs, does not list sexual orientation as a protected class in employment materials.
Jennifer Trapani, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA Board of Directors, said the decision to no longer seek a partnership was mutual. The controversy played a part in the discussions, but it was not the only factor in Friday's announcement.
"Our community is obviously very important to us. Our YMCA is an organization for our community, so we were trying to listen to everyone's comments and concerns openly," she said.
"We were very convinced that they are not an organization that discriminates at all, but still, the uneasiness from our community made them and us concerned."
A group of 20 anti-capitalist protesters occupied CVS-owned in property in downtown Carrboro for three hours Saturday night before walking out at the strong encouragement of town police and Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, who each told them they would be charged with breaking and entering if they did not leave.
The demonstration concerned a forthcoming rezoning application from CVS to build a two-story, 24,000 square foot building at 201 N. Greensboro St., to house a 24-hour drug store and office space.
The anarchist demonstrators, who call themselves "Carrboro Commune" and align with "Occupy Everything," would rather the site be used for a community center, free school, health clinic or performance space.
Maria Rowan stood outside the building handing out fliers inviting passersby to an open assembly at 4 p.m. Sunday to discuss what to do with the building.
"It's my personal hope that the community reclaims our vision for this land and make it clear that multinational corporations and their money are not more important than people," she said
Upon exiting at 7:10 p.m. wearing black bandanas for masks and carrying black flags, Carrboro Commune members promised more occupations and engaged in a heated discussion with Chilton.
They derided the mayor for enforcing property law. Some hurled expletives at him. They said police are one command away from being Nazis.
"I don't think treating your fellow human beings that way is going to get us anywhere," Chilton fired back.
"Look under here, it's skin" he said, pointing to his shirt.
Press release below. More to come, I'm sure.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners are committed to closing the local landfill, a burden that the Rogers Road-Eubanks community has been saddled with for 40 years now, in June 2013.
But, at last night’s Assembly of Governments meeting, leaders from the three Orange municipalities who dump garbage there as part of an interlocal agreement said they want to work together but differ on how to move forward. They have just 17 months to decide.
Chapel Hill is hiring a consultant, hopefully next month, to study its options and wants to consider keeping trash local and converting it to energy.
Carrboro is balking at the cost, both in dollars and in pollution, of the county’s plan to transport waste to Durham’s transfer station and then onto a landfill in Virginia. The Board of Alderman unanimously supports studying the feasibility of building a waste transfer station in Chapel Hill near the northwest intersection of N.C. Hwy 86 and I-40.
Hillsborough is OK with whatever everyone else decides so long as it doesn’t cost significantly more than what is being done now.
All want to offer remediation for Rogers-Eubanks and agreed to form a task force to work on creating a lasting community center for the neighborhood and on providing the water and sewer connections for neighbors that were promised when the site was built in 1972.
The band of people that descended upon and dismantled Occupy Chapel Hill was friendly, and also a bit sentimental. About a dozen Occupiers showed up Tuesday afternoon to remove the tents, tarps and random detritus that had sat with them in Peace and Justice Plaza since Oct. 15.
The voluntary disencampment isn't an abandonment of Occupy Chapel Hill. At the press conference that followed, Katya Roytburd, who helped organize the event, proclaimed, "I would like to welcome everyone here to Occupy Chapel Hill-Carrboro's celebration of Occupy 2.0, the next phase of our existence."
The decision was made last December at one of the group's general assembly meetings amid concerns over the camp's long-term sustainability. At its peak, the camp filled the small square except for a thin strip of walkway. Up to 35 people slept there overnight; at least one person was there during the day. Food and medical supplies had to be provided. Sanitation and cleanup were ongoing concerns.
Stephanie Daugherty has slept the majority of the past three months in an OCH tent and was often responsible for arranging night watches. OCH occasionally had confrontations with drunk and belligerent college students, the homeward-bound patrons of nearby bars and homeless people.
"It's taken a lot of time and energy," Daugherty says, sounding drained. The tents and overnighters have dwindled to five and around a half-dozen, respectively. "The proximity to the street and the proximity to the bars, the concrete, how exposed the space really is [means] the site is really a great site to make a political statement. It's really not a great site to camp in."
By breaking down the encampment, the next phase of OCH frees up much energy and personnel for other goals. Future plans include other and more frequent events, outreach seminars and teach-ins. For instance, OCH is participating in Occupy the Courts in Raleigh on Jan. 20, and promoting a Jan. 21 foreclosure prevention seminar hosted by the N.C. Central University School of Law in Durham.
And even the tents won't be completely gone. Temporary encampments will sprout up around Chapel Hill and Carrboro as occasion and causes demand—the Roving Occupy. "It actually expands our ability to connect and make alliances with more people in our community, because not everyone comes to this corner of Franklin Street," says Maria Rowan, who is part of the Roving Occupy working group. She hopes that only having occasional campouts will renew enthusiasm and turnout for OCH events.
Others in OCH fretted about the value of a permanent physical presence. Daugherty says, "The encampment's been a visual disruption as you go down Franklin Street and gives you an idea that something's not right here." Arturo Escobar, a professor of anthropology and self-described sympathizer of OCH who makes occasional small donations, said it's "very important to keep the issues in the public imagination. They might take the camp down today, but this needs to continue in different ways."
OCH is mindful of preserving its momentum. The group's website and blog will continue to be updated, and the listservs will be carefully tended. Peace and Justice Plaza will continue to host the regular general assembly meetings, open to all. And there are talks of getting a permanent indoor space or setting up information tables on the Plaza.
Ultimately the disencampment is a calculation that OCH hopes will pay off. "We're voluntarily taking this down, which is a huge change from other Occupy camps," says Lila Little, whose large, brown tent loomed before the post office door. "But everybody's different, and I think this will suit us fairly well."