Welcome to the Archive of The Carrboro Citizen Logo Image

Downtown growth has board wary of rezoning plan

By Kirk Ross
Staff Writer

Though separate items on its Tuesday night agenda, concerns about managing growth downtown have the Carrboro Board of Aldermen carefully considering next steps for traffic calming on Oak Avenue and a proposed rezoning on Center Street.

The Center Street proposal brought by a group of owners led by Jane Hamborsky asks that the town change the zoning on its property at 102 Center Street to allow for a greater variety of business uses.

The owners of the property, which is now home to Curl Up and Dye Hair Salon, want to also use the property for a photo studio. While the current zoning permits some business uses along with residential uses, Hamborsky said it makes sense to change it to B-2, the same as many nearby businesses. She said she had surveyed many of the neighbors in the area, but did not find a consensus among them on how to approach Center Street rezoning.

However, Weaver Street Market general manager Ruffin Slater also asked the board to consider adding property next door at 104 Center Street to the request for B-2 as well.
But Oak Avenue resident John Alderson said he did not want to see the area become more commercial than it already is. He agreed with an assessment by board of aldermen member Jacquie Gist who worried that the project would start the area down a “slippery slope.”

Gist also said that while Hamborsky might have the neighborhood’s interests in mind, zoning is assigned to a piece of property and not a person.

Noting the pressures to grow downtown, the block, she said, could become another five-story development if the zoning change is granted.

“I don’t want to open that box,” Gist said.

The board, however, agreed to hold a public hearing on the proposal on March 25, but limited the request to just the 102 Center Street property. The matter now moves to a review by the town planning board.

The same concerns about growth affected another board review Tuesday night, although the subject was somewhat different.

The board looked at the results of efforts to reduce speeding on Oak Avenue, hearing from neighbors that a speed table the town installed last year is helping some, but that the road is still a popular cut-through and that speeding on the narrow street remains a problem.

The speed table, installed after Oak Avenue neighbors successfully petitioned the town for traffic-calming measures, has dropped the speed of most of the traffic by a few miles per hour, but the volume has remained the problem, resident Chris Frank told the board.

The street, he said, gets more than 1,000 cars per day, he said, far higher than any other street in the neighborhood with twice as much traffic traveling south to north than north to south.

Michelle Rivest thanked the board for the speed table but agreed that more needed to be done to prevent the street from becoming an increasingly popular cut-through as the downtown area is developed.

“Speeding is a concern, but it’s really the volume” that’s the problem, she said.
Board members said they’d like to look at suggestions for adding striping to the street or possibly reconsidering a proposal by the neighbors to make part of the street one-way to reduce its attractiveness as a cut-through.

In other action, the board rejected a request from the county to defer fee rental for groups contributing to the effort to convert Smith Middle School’s two soccer fields to artificial turf. Board members said it was unclear how much the change would cost.

The board was urged to help with the project by Billy Madden, a Carrboro resident and soccer referee who said improving the field would “affect more people in Carrboro than show up to vote.”

A proposal by board of aldermen member Randee Haven O’Donnell to consider waiving permitting fees for the project and consider deferring the fees for the groups failed to receive a second.

The board also voted to move ahead in conjunction with Chapel Hill on the Morgan Creek Greenway project, but decided to spend more time reviewing plans for the Bolin Creek Greenway. Both projects could receive a state transportation grant, but some board members were concerned that rules requiring that the Bolin Creek project be a ten-foot wide paved asphalt trail.

Comments are closed.