By Kirk Ross
Loitering, drinking, public unrination and crude and offensive comments to female passers-by have sparked a crackdown at a site on the corner of Jones Ferry Road and Davie Road routinely used by day laborers.
Neighbors have long complained that the corner across Davie Road from the Kangaroo Express convenience store has become the scene of day and night congregation and that the actions of those there have gotten out of hand.
Town officials met with 30 residents of the area in late July.
A report presented to the Board of Aldermen at their meeting Tuesday night at Town Hall called for several changes for the area, primarily keeping up an increase in police presence. Carrboro police reported roughly 60 calls to the area since May 7.
Alderman Jacquie Gist said she is particularly concerned about the harrasement of young women by crowds of men hanging out in the area.
â€œIâ€™m sick of it,â€ she said. The town, she said, should not tolerate women being subjected to threatening language.
After reviewing the report, the board agreed that police pressure should be kept up and that the town and neighborsâ€™ concerns be conveyed to the owners of the convenience store.
Mayor Mark Chilton said he has seen individuals drinking on the premises and suggested that action is a likely violation of the storeâ€™s ABC permits.
The board also asked that the town work with El Centro Latino to try to educate those using the site about concerns over littering and public urination and contact the Orange-Durham Homebuilders Association to convey concerns to its member contractors.
To help beef up police enforcement in the area, the town is also considering adopting a narrowly tailored anti-lingering ordinance. That would make it illegal to â€œstand, sit, linger, or otherwise remainâ€ in the area between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Police patrols have focused on that timeframe because most of the contractors who need day laborers have hired them out by 11 a.m., according to the report.
The board asked Town Attorney Michael Brough to run the ordinance past the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the group that would most likely challenge the law on constitutional grounds. Brough agreed, adding that he believes the ordinance, which limits the rules to 400 feet of sidewalks and right-of-way near the site, is focused enough to pass muster with the ACLU.
Aldermen Dan Coleman and Randee Haven Oâ€™Donnell suggested that the board look into a more formal day labor center. Other towns with similar problems have dealt with them by setting up centers for day labor.
Both Chilton and Alderman John Herrera emphasized that they do not want to see the crackdown negatively impact legitimate day laborers.