Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro will enter its second phase next week when the group removes its tents from Peace and Justice Plaza on Franklin Street, according to press release issued this morning.
Occupiers have been holding camp in front of the Post Office there since Oct. 15, but amid the coming cold, and safety and morale concerns drawn from sleeping on the street in close quarters each night, the group is shifting strategy.
The Carrboro Board of Alderman voted unanimously to end the town’s anti-lingering ordinance Tuesday, ending a four-year old rule that restricting anyone from standing or sitting at the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The ordinance, passed in 2007, applied to the corner where Latino day laborers congregate to seek work. Neighbors complained that men, most who were not day laborers, would hang out there, drink and create trash.
Chris Brook, a staff attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who helped campaign to end the ordinance and challenge its legality, called it “a request for dignity” from day laborers.
“Folks who were impacted by this ordinance had their voice heard,” he said. “Their representatives heard them and responded. It’s always exciting to see democracy work in the way it should.”
Three dozen Carrboro community members, including social justice activists, day laborers and elected officials, assembled in solidarity at the corner of Davie and Jones Ferry roads Tuesday morning and called for an end to the town’s anti-lingering ordinance.
The controversial local law, which passed in 2007, forbids anyone from standing, sitting, reclining, lingering or otherwise remaining on that corner after 11 a.m. Day laborers often assemble on that corner trying to find work.
Supporters of the ordinance say it’s needed to address a few people, many of whom aren't looking for work, who allegedly drink and cause public disturbances on the corner.
On some days as many as 60 day laborers, many of them Latinos who live across the street at Abbey Court apartments, await trucks coming buy to pick them up for a shift.
“This is one of the only venues where we can provide for our families,” he said, adding that many who want the ordinance abolished did not attend the event for fear of retribution. “Once we are asked to leave, there’s nowhere else we can go.”
Chris Brook, staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance, read a petition signed by 112 residents. Among the signatures are representatives from the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the Orange County Democratic Party, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP, local business owners, former Board of Aldermen members and candidates.
Brian Bower, who said his top priority if elected to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board would be “to pick my jaw from off the floor,” removed that possibility Wednesday night by dropping out of the race.
Bower, a UNC graduate student who was running primarily to establish in-state residency and earn lower tuition costs, is withdrawing from the race both because of the “remote possibility that my candidacy might jeopardize the re-election of Ms. (Jamezetta) Bedford,” he wrote in a statement, and because UNC recently approved his application to be an in-state student.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Chairwoman Jamezetta Bedford thought she had no opponents in her re-election bid. Today, eight days before the polls open, she learned she has to contend with seven other candidates also running for school board seats.
Seven other candidates, including three other incumbents, filed for four seats, all four-year terms.
But today, Bedford learned that she can't just run for a two-year term. The Orange County and North Carolina board of elections overlooked local election law passed in 1975 that requires all candidates to run in the same pool. The top four finishers will earn four-year terms, and the fifth place candidate will be awarded the two-year term.
If Chapel Hill were a restaurant, it would be dawdling in the kitchen while diners impatiently waited for their meals.
After 11 months of deliberation, town officials still may not decide on legalization of food trucks until an Oct. 17 public hearing, at the earliest.
On Monday, 20 food truck vendors, citizens and politicians attended an informational session during which Chapel Hill Principal Planner Kendal Brown rolled out proposed regulations to govern the eateries on wheels.
Among the key stipulations:
-Trucks would be allowed only on paved, private, commercially zoned parking lots that have at least 10 designated spaces; vendors must have the landowner’s permission.
-Trucks could operate only when the business that regularly uses the lot is closed, and they must be parked 200 feet from the customer entrance of any restaurant.
-In addition, in some districts outside downtown, there could be only one vendor per 100 parking spaces or per acre, with a maximum of two vendors per lot.
Books, countless Johnny Cash CDs, PTA Thrift Shop jewelry, harmonicas, gently used guitars, bicycles, unpackaged single lightbulbs.
"His pockets were full of the strangest oddities, and they would come out at any moment," said Scott Conary, who owns Open Eye, the coffee shop where Harman was a staple.
"He gave me earrings with an 'L' on it," said Sara Gebhart, a former barista . "I said, 'You know my name doesn't start with an 'L.'' He said, 'That's for 'Love' God damn it.'"
The candidate-filing period opened with a flourish Friday in Orange County as mayors from Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough all signed up to defend their seats and challengers emerged in the Chapel Hill Town Council and Board of Alderman races.
In Chapel Hill, Lee Storrow and August Cho filed as expected, and Laney Dale, a tech entrepreneur who moved to town four years ago, joined the race for the four open positions on the nine- member, including the mayor, council.
He is the CEO and founder of two start-up companies, Appuware and Appubater, which create computer and mobile applications. Appuwhere allows customers to be developers. Appubater accepts ideas from clients and partners to realize them.
Both businesses are located in Durham, and Dale says Chapel Hill needs to work to make it easier for businesses to establish offices there.
Chapel Hill High School alumnus James Barrett announced today his candidacy for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
“We as a community share a set of goals and values for our school district. Now is the time to do things a little differently to make real progress on those goals,” he stated in a press release.
Barrett, who also attended Seawell Elementary School and Phillips Middle School, moved back to the Triangle in 1995 after working in Atlanta, and says the time is ripe for reform. New superintendent Thomas Forcella will take the reins July 1 replacing Neil Pedersen, who will step down after 19 years, which makes him the longest tenured superintendent in the district’s history.
UPDATE, 4/7/11: Carrboro town officials released another statement Thursday afternoon to note that N.C. DENR will soon announce a public information session on the contamination issues. N.C. DENR will also contact property owners, businesses and residents of potentially affected properties to coordinate additional environmental testing and mitigation measures at no cost. N.C. DENR asks that anyone seeking more information contact Cathy Akroyd, public information officer, at (919) 508-8438 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Carrboro town officials announced late Wednesday that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is evaluating the spread of contamination from dry cleaning chemicals near businesses and homes at Weaver and Main streets, and that at least one site has shown high levels of a potentially carcinogenic chemical. (PDF announcement)
The contamination originated from the building at 408 W. Weaver St., which housed MEM One-Hour Martinizing in the early 1970s, according to a statement from Carrboro officials. The Carrboro site is one of hundreds statewide being tested and evaluated through an N.C. DENR program to measure and clean up widespread contamination of dry cleaning solvents from the past several decades.
A common dry-cleaning contaminant is perchloroethylene, also known as PERC, or tetrachlorethene, which was handled with less stringent restrictions in previous decades, but is now considered by federal health officials as a probable carcinogen. Spills and what would now be considered improper disposal of the chemical have contributed to contamination in the soil, groundwater and even the indoor air of properties near former and current dry cleaning businesses. Read "The dirt on dry cleaning," Jan. 20, 2010
State officials first learned about contamination near 408 W. Weaver St. in 2009, when a test well at the gas station at 300 W. Main St. showed evidence of PERC, which it was later determined had migrated from the former dry cleaning service at 408 W. Weaver St. When the contamination was discovered, the owner of the building at 408 W. Weaver St. voluntarily entered the property into the state's Dry Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act program. Once the site was accepted into the program, N.C. DENR officials began analyzing the extent of the contamination there and completed a report on it in October, according to the Carrboro press release.
The DCSA program is paid for by a tax on dry cleaning services established several years ago. The owners of buildings accepted into the clean up program also bear some financial responsibility, paying 1.5 percent of the total costs to test, analyze and clean up the contaminated site.
For the past 12 years, the building at 408 W. Weaver St. has been home to Summerwind Pools & Spas, said business owner Jay Sunde. His business hasn't been affected, and two indoor air tests showed the building was safe to be inside, Sunde said.
But according to the memo, tests of a nearby home or business showed high levels of the chemical PERC, and a toxicologist from the N.C. Department of Health and Human services has recommended that adjacent properties be tested for contamination.
It was unclear late Wednesday whether the new property showing contamination was a business or home, and whether the soil, groundwater or indoor air at that site was contaminated. With the statement's release just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, neither officials from N.C. DENR, nor Carrboro officials were immediately available for more information.