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Has Carrboro lost its compassion?

By Sharon Cook

Winmore developers wanted to build a daycare center with parking for 40 vehicles adjacent to the environmentally sensitive Bolin Creek stream buffer. They had already maxed out their impervious surface limits, so the Carrboro Board of Aldermen approved a text amendment to change the rules.

Last summer, it was reported that taco truck owners were operating illegally. The board quickly called an emergency meeting and changed the rules.

Carr Mill Mall owners posted regulations limiting activities on their property. Carrboro town officials quickly spoke out against the limits, with some participating in a dance-in to change the rules.

Now comes the question, how did a 540-square-foot barn apartment get built 10 years ago in Carrboro’s extraterritorial jurisdiction to house a farm hand? The town says one thing. The farm owner says another.

What did town officials do to resolve the dispute? Instead of working through the Dispute Settlement Center to find a fair and reasonable solution, our board members have spent thousands of dollars of our tax money to prosecute the farm owner.

Readers may know Mrs. Kille, who runs Peppermint Springs Farm, a horse rescue shelter on Old Fayetteville Road across from Autumn Woods apartments. For many years, her ponies brought joy to our town’s children at the Carrboro Elementary School fair. She has literally given hundreds of people of all ages the opportunity to interact with farm animals close to home.

The authority to build the barn apartment in the University Lake watershed isn’t in question. The board will allow it if her farm is converted into a major subdivision. However, this extreme measure will increase her taxes to the point of forcing her to sell her farm.

Have we lost our sense of fairness? Do we no longer stand up for the “little guy”? We could spend a lot of time, energy and money playing “He Said, She Said,” or we could put our creative minds together to come up with a solution that makes sense, not just for Peppermint Springs Farm but for the many other farms in Carrboro’s planning jurisdiction.

As a planning board member, I have introduced a text amendment that does just that. It would allow a farm owner to have a small accessory apartment without subdividing the property. It would change the rules, just like we did for the daycare center developers and the taco truck owners.

You can help. Please contact our elected officials and ask them to approve this text amendment. Send your message care of TownClerk (at) townofcarrboro (dot) org with a copy to this paper’s editor at editor (at) carrborocitizen (dot) com. Tell them Carrboro is compassionate. Tell them our farms are worth saving.

Sharon Cook is a member of the Carrboro Planning Board.

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