Citizens, town get together to solve Carrboro parking

CARRBORO — Carrboro town officials met all day Friday with local business people and other concerned citizens to find, at least, some short-term solutions to Carrboro’s public parking shortage.

“We all need parking,” says Cliff Collins, owner of Cliff’s Meat Market in Carrboro for more then 40 years.“We all need to share.”

Collins was one of several business owners that attended at least one of three Parking Summit sessions at the Century Center on Friday. The focus was on employee parking.

After one session, Alderman Michelle Johnson said she heard a lot of citizens complain that the parking downtown is barely adequate for people working there. She said that’s a potential turnoff to people who’d like to shop and dine there.

“The biggest concern is if employees are taking up [all the] parking,” she said.

Nathan Milian, manager of Carr Mill Mall, attended all three sessions. Milian said he liked a lot of the ideas he heard Friday, including shared spaces, park-and-ride lots, and the use of shuttles. He also thinks the days of free parking in Carrboro may be finished.

“I think all the ideas are good and viable,” he said. “I think it’s probably going to take a combination of all of them. But there’s a cost involved in it. And that’s one of the reasons I don’t see a way around having to go to paid parking.”

Economic & Community Development Director Annette Stone was a moderator at the summit. She said it may be time for the small Town of Carrboro to view parking more like people in Raleigh and Durham see it.

“Folks are routinely used to parking in a deck somewhere in downtown Raleigh and walking several blocks to where they need to be,” says Stone. “It’s just the growing pains of a vibrant downtown, like we have.”

Stone said the town will look over all of the suggestions presented on Friday, and come up with a presentation soon for the Board of Aldermen.

Carr Mill Mall Sees Weekend Break-In

CARRBORO – Nathan Milian, manager for Carr Mill Mall, confirms there was a break-in sometime between 10 p.m. Friday evening and 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

“They entered an exterior door to Panzanella and then gained access to the interior of the mall. From there, they broke into The Bead Shop by smashing the front entry door,”  said Lt. Chris Atack of the Carrboro Police Department.

“[The Bead Store] cash register itself was pretty much destroyed. Someone was pretty motivated to get in to it,” Atack said.

He believes the intruder(s) left through Panzanella as well. Atack says an investigator has been assigned for follow-up.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (919) 942-7515.

Carrboro Planning Board Votes Against CVS Rezoning

CARRBORO- In a 4-3 vote, with four members absent, Carrboro’s planning board voted Thursday to recommend that the Board of Aldermen deny the rezoning request needed to build a CVS pharmacy at one of the busiest intersections in town.

“Its not that this project is, in itself, some sort of horrible, evil project, or that somehow the town code is just totally, horribly wrong for this block, it’s just that they’re not compatible,” said planning board vice-chair Damon Seils. “This particular proposal is just not compatible with what’s available to be done on this block.”

The project would fill almost the entire block bounded by North Greensboro, Weaver, Center and Short Streets. Plans call for a two story mixed use building on the site currently occupied by a vacant building. The rest of the site would be dominated by parking lots, with a “mini-park” at the northwestern edge of the property facing Center Street.

This is the second time the planning board has voted against approval of the project. Last year the board rejected the plan due to concerns about zoning, lighting and neighborhood protection. Developers put the project on hold for nearly a year while they revised the proposal.

This time, planning board members said the applicant had responded well to community concerns about aesthetics, lighting and building design, but that ultimately the project failed to provide a smooth transition from commercial to residential areas.

And while board members embraced the high-volume 24-hour retail center proposed for the corner of North Greensboro and Weaver Street, several argued that converting two nearby mill houses into a parking lot is not a creative use of valuable downtown real estate.

“If this plan had proposed to put in two brand new mill houses there, to be used for commercial purposes that ended at midnight or even earlier, I’d be leaping up to say ‘yeah, that’s a great plan,’” said Matthew Barton. “But that’s not the plan we have.”

Should the aldermen choose to approve the rezoning, the planning board suggested that they push for reduced parking on the site. But that proposal didn’t sit well with Nathan Milian, who manages Carr Mill Mall across the road where CVS is currently located.

“Whatever you do, don’t ask them to reduce the parking they have,” Milian told the board. “This is the number two CVS in the state of North Carolina, so there’s a big difference between the volume that this store does and the volume of the local drugstore down the street, which means tremendous parking issues. Carr Mill Mall has tremendous parking issues.”

The CVS project has sparked debate and even protest over the past two years about how and where Carrboro should grow. That debate will continue next Tuesday, when the Board of Aldermen holds a public hearing on the revised plan.