CHAPEL HILL – Carrboro is known for pushing policies that protect the environment, but this past legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed laws which some have said cut back on key regulations meant to protect the environment.
At the Carrboro Board of Aldermen Candidates Forum Monday, moderator Aaron Keck asked hopefuls what they viewed the biggest environmental problem facing the Town.
The five candidates competing for three open seats include incumbents Sammy Slade, Jacquelyn Gist and Randee Haven-O’Donnell. The challengers are Kurt Stolka, Vice-Chair of Carrboro’s Transportation Advisory Board, and Al Vickers, a former member of the Solid Waste Advisory Board with a Ph. D. in environmental science. Vickers was absent from the Forum Monday due to a prior engagement out of the country.
***Listen to WCHL’s 2013 Carrboro Board of Aldermen Candidates Forum***
Gist said she was concerned about the General Assembly impugning the Board’s authority to pass tighter environmental regulations.
“The General Assembly is gutting our ability to have environmental regulations that are stronger than the State or the Feds,” Gist said. “We are talking about our creek buffers; we are talking about the University Lake protection [regulations]; we are talking about storm water flow. So what Carrboro is doing right now, under the leadership of Damon [Alderman Damon Seils], is looking at all of our environmental regulations and making them as tight as possible before the 2014 session.”
Haven-O’Donnell said that the flash floods of June 30, which swept through the area dumping more than five inches of rain in just a few hours, show the necessity to update the town’s infrastructure for extreme weather events.
“We really need to create a better infrastructure to deal with storm water,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “I think that we have aging infrastructure. We need to re-pipe, and we need to make the storm water issue one that is not going to create flooding and get folks out of their homes.”
Stolka said he believed the Town should deter the community from using cars as the main mode of transportation, and encourage walking and biking.
“Carrboro should not stand for cars,” Stolka said. “That is the biggest impact on climate change—with our C02 emissions from our driving. [It’s] not where we live or the energy efficiency of our buildings, but it is how much people use gas and pollute our environment.”
Slade said the Board is doing a balancing act between development moving into Downtown and the increased traffic and congestion that more activity creates.
“[We] need to reconcile those two values that we have for out Town: how to manage the amount of parking that higher density, mixed-use calls for as our planning and zoning calls for,” Slade said. “And the fact that we don’t have the capacity to bring that many cars into our downtown.”