Talal Asad is one of three candidates competing for a seat on the Carrboro Board of Alderman this year.
“My goal is to facilitate business owners with as easy a process as possible to continue to sell their goods and services, not only to Carrboro, and to provide them not just to the Town of Carrboro, but also to Chapel Hill and other surrounding areas,” says Asad.
“We should become a destination, I believe, as opposed to just an insular community.”
He’s running against Planning Board Chair Bethany Chaney, and youth mentor and IT specialist Theresa Watson in the May 6 special election for a seat on the Board of Aldermen.
Asad is 27 years old, and a 2008 graduate of the Max M. Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.
“I do have a lot of experience dealing with a wide group of people, especially in an executive committee sort of role,” he says.
“When I was in college, in my student organization, I was part of a national fraternity, and I was the treasurer of that fraternity. And we were one of the largest in the nation.”
He’s referring to the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Asad says that student leadership taught him to work with a diverse group.
Currently, he’s director of operations at Son Information Systems, a software consulting business in Durham.
In 2010, he moved to Carrboro, from London, England. He lived in Toledo, Ohio until he was seven, when his family moved to the Middle East.
Asad attended high school in Amman, the capital of Jordan. According to Asad, he formed the schools’ first student council.
He says his desire to run for alderman was sparked, in part, by what he sees as the lack of younger voices on the Board.
Asad says it also came from speaking to local business owners, who told him about parking problems, predatory towing, as well as zoning and regulatory hurdles.
“My goal, as alderman, is to try to fight for increased access to the town,” he says, “and to allow more business owners to thrive, and to increase the tax base based on our business owners, so it doesn’t have to fall on the backs of the homeowners and the residents.”
He says he generally thinks the current aldermen do a good job of governing. But he has some concerns.
There’s talk of making Carrboro more pedestrian-and-bike-friendly. Asad says the town is already very accommodating to bikers and walkers.
“I do think there needs to be a lot more education given to the actual bikers in town, to protect themselves and to protect cars from actually, you know, impeding in regular traffic,” he says. “I do notice a lot of times that most of the — I want to say, violators on the road, are, in fact, bikers.”
Asad says he’d like to see more structured parking in town, in addition to the new parking garage at 300 East Main Street. He suggests using the lot near Open Eye Café.
In the coming weeks, WCHL will be talking to candidates in all local races.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/alderman-candidate-talal-asad-carrboro-needs-parking-business-growth/
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, the town government will consider plans for extending sewer service to the Historic Rogers Road area.
In the proposal up for consideration, Orange Water and Sewer Authority would evaluate and select a consulting engineering firm to survey and evaluate 86 lots in the area.
That firm would also perform below-ground engineering work. Those tasks would require gaining access to private property, but not the acquisition of easements.
This pre-design phase would take six-to-seven months, according to an OWASA estimate.
The estimated $5.8 million sewer extension is a component of the Rogers Road Remediation Plan, now two years in the making.
Orange, Chapel Hill and Carrboro are working together to make amends to a community that has been adversely affected by the county and municipal landfill for the past 40 years.
In other matters:
The Board will take up unresolved business from last week, regarding language in the town’s Land Use Ordinance to define the width of easements along buffers and creeks.
It’s an issue that’s being worked out between Town staff and Orange Water and Sewer Authority.
OWASA workers want to be sure they have the access needed to perform inspections and repairs on utilities, while the Town wishes to maintain tree-and-water protections.
Aldermen will also consider voting on the creation of a Safe Routes to School Implementation Committee.
The proposed 10-member committee would recommend transportation policies, programs, and activities that would make it safer and more convenient to walk or ride bikes to Carrboro schools, as well as school-related events.
The committee would include faculty, school administrators, and three non-voting student members.
Tuesday’s meeting will open with a presentation by attorney Raul Pinto of the American Civil Liberties Union. Pinto will talk about police checkpoints in Carrboro.
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, located at 301 West Main Street.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/carrboro-boa-preview-rogers-road-safe-routes-students-agenda/
The Feb. 25 meeting of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen will be taken up, mostly, by discussion of proposed additions to the town’s Land Use Ordinance.
The Board will consider amending a section of the Ordinance to clarify which utility work activities are allowed or exempt in water quality buffers.
It’s been the subject of an ongoing discussion between the Planning Board and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority.
At issue is how best to protect trees and water quality, while giving workers the utility line access they need to conduct inspections and make repairs in buffers and along creeks.
Another proposed ordinance would clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Environmental Advisory Board in working with Aldermen on matters regarding conservation and protections.
EAB members are appointed by the Board of Aldermen.
There’s a proposal to add language to another section of the Land Use Ordinance regarding development projects that entail more than 1,000 square feet of new building in downtown commercial areas, or more than 20,000 square feet of disturbance.
Proposed language in the ordinance mandates that businesses and residents in surrounding neighborhoods have the opportunity to address the impact of big construction projects.
Such impacts include employee parking, storage of hazardous materials, and roads and entrances used by construction vehicles.
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall at 301 West Main Street.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/carrboro-boa-preview-land-use-ordinance-gets-another-look/
CARRBORO – A “slow zone” might be coming to Downtown Carrboro. The Board of Aldermen gave the go-ahead Tuesday for town staff to explore the feasibility of the proposed traffic calming area, which some have said would reduce the number of pedestrian and bicycle-involved vehicle collisions.
Seth LaJeuness , Chair of the Carrboro Transportation Advisory Board, explained that a slow zone is a small area with well-defined boundaries with an average speed limit of 20 m.p.h. The zone is placed in areas with high pedestrian and bicycle activity and/or a history of vehicle accidents with pedestrians and bicycles.
The majority of pedestrian collisions in Carrboro happen along East Main St., between Lloyd St. and Greensboro St., and in the intersections in that stretch, including Weaver St. and Main St. LaJeunesse explained that this is the general area in which the Transportation Advisory Board hopes to implement the slow zone.
“Traffic calming and slow zones, this kind of concept on average produces crash reductions of about 30 percent, according to literature. This goes along with being able to maneuver and stop quickly. You see a lot more yielding to pedestrians,” LaJeunesse said.
Designating such zones has been accomplished in other cities by constructing artistic gateway designs. The goal is to distinguish these areas, signaling to drivers that they are entering into a new traffic zone and should slow down.
Carrboro Alderperson Jacquie Gist said that the Carrboro Arts Committee is currently working on designs that she believed would work as gateways fixtures and would be a way to promote local artists.
Gist added that she supported the idea of a slow zone, but she wanted staff to include downtown businesses in the discussion and planning phases of the proposed project.
“I don’t want it to be, ‘Here Downtown businesses, this is something we are doing to you.’ I would rather have it be something that the Downtown businesses feel that they are a part of and that they are doing with us,” Gist said.
Other measures that complement slow zones are lead pedestrian intervals, bike corrals, and curb extensions. Carrboro already offers bike corrals in locations across downtown.
Gateway structures would be approximately $10,000 each; new pedestrian signals would be approximately $1,000 or less each, and curb extensions would cost $12,000 each.
Though these additions would come at a high cost to the town, LaJeunesse said that he believed the safety and economic benefits would be worthwhile. He predicted calmer streets due to the slow down zone would promote lingering and socializing in the area and result in more business for the local shops.
Alderperson Randee Haven-O’Donnell supported the idea of pedestrian signals but pointed out that Chapel Hill controls Carrboro’s stoplights, and coordination efforts would be necessary.
“I think it is inexpensive enough, and it is important enough, and it is a great way to acculturate folks about wait time,” Haven-O’Donell said.
Slow zones are popular in New York City and in parts of Europe.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/boa/
CARRBORO – Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen has a busy night planned for the Feb. 18 meeting at Town Hall.
Aldermen will float the possibility of designating a “slow zone” in downtown Carrboro to improve walkability, as well as improving lighting and providing shade for that purpose.
They’ll also consider adding ATMs, as well as restaurants with carry-out and delivery services, to the list of permitted uses in an area zoned for retail development, offices, recreational and entertainment facilities, and manufacturing.
The area in question includes lots on South Greensboro Street and Jones Ferry Road.
The Board will address concerns of local towing companies regarding regulations. Some towers have expressed opposition to current rules about charging, signage, and forms of payment.
Issues related to either walking or biking in Carrboro show up on the evening’s agenda more than once.
One item would establish stop controls and a speed limit on Bike Alley, the north-south leg of Boyd Street.
The Board will also consider scheduling a public meeting to begin setting design standards for bicycle and pedestrian paths.
And there’ll be some discussion of branding guidelines for a new town logo and slogan: “It’s Carrboro – Feel Free.”
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/carrboro-boa-preview-bike-paths-slow-zones-towing-rules/
CARRBORO -An initiative to install at least 50 solar panels on the rooftops of Carrboro homes is moving forward this year.
“In the past, I thought – many of us thought – widespread adoption of solar panels on roofs was something that would occur someday in the future, but never really get there,” said Rob Pinder of Next Climate Inc., a non-profit Carrboro organization.
“But I think that, really, that time is now.”
Next Climate Inc. has been working closely with Town of Carrboro staff as well as NC Solar Center, a technical and research group at NC State.
Together, they created the project Solarize Carrboro. And this year, they’re taking action.
“It’s certainly feasible to get to something like a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by widespread adoption of solar panels,” said Pinder.
Pinder presented a report to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen this past Tueday night. Back in 2009, the Board passed a resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Carrboro.
That was the same year that a group of neighbors in Portland, Oregon banded together to negotiate a group discount from a local solar panel installer.
“The Department of Energy saw this,” Pinder said. “They thought, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s try to replicate this all over the country.”
The DOE provided assistance for expert groups to work with citizens all over the country to solarize their towns.
Right now, the Solarize project managers are reviewing proposals, and will announce a vetted installer on February 21.
Solarize hopes to start home assessments on March 1. The first big kickoff meeting will be April 2.
“The purpose of that will be to explain the program,” said Pinder, “and help people understand every aspect of the solar process so that they can make sure that their installation is a great fit for their home.”
People will also get the opportunity to sign up. It’s a limited time offer. Signups end on May 30, so that installations can be completed in time for homeowners to be eligible for a tax break at the end of the year.
The goal for this year is at least 50 homes in Carrboro. Pinder said there have been 30 inquiries already.
More information is available at www.solarizenc.org/carrborohttp://chapelboro.com/news/non-profit-news/solarize-carrboro-moving-forward-2014/
CARRBORO- Folks who enjoy Carrboro’s nightlife, but worry about driving home afterward, may once again leave their vehicles parked in public lots overnight.
Just before Carrboro’s Mayor and Aldermen closed a work session to the public on Tuesday night, Alderman Damon Seils made the evening’s last public motion: “…that we remove the change we made around 3 a.m.-to-5 a.m. parking in public lots.”
It’s been a nagging issue for Seils for several weeks, and voting on it was pre-empted by another threat of inclement weather a few weeks ago.
But Tuesday, he finally got a vote on rescinding the town’s prohibition on parking in public lots between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
It didn’t take long. There was no need for a staff presentation, and comments, such as this one from Alderman Jacquelyn Gist, were few:
“I second that, because it was a mistake on our part,” admitted Gist. “Because it’s encouraging people to drive cars when they shouldn’t.”
The ban was put in place last year. Speaking to WCHL recently, Seils recapped how parking in public lots during the wee hour became an issue in the first place.
“Some residents, who were beginning to use the public parking lots for long-term parking, because, presumably, they didn’t have enough parking on their property,” he said.
Not long after Aldermen voted for the ban, Seils and others reconsidered. He told WCHL that it wasn’t because of a reported uptick in roadway accidents or DUI arrests.
He said it was based on feedback from local business owners and constituents, who just thought it was a bad idea to make people drive when they shouldn’t just to avoid getting a parking ticket.
Nobody has to worry about that anymore. Alderman have now — unanimously — removed that ban on “wee-hours” parking.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/carrboro-lifts-ban-wee-hours-public-parking/
HILLSBOROUGH- Even before the start of the filing period, more than a dozen local candidates have declared their intent to run for office in 2014.
Long-time Orange County Commissioner Alice Gordon announced she won’t be seeking re-election, prompting Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board Vice-Chair Mia Burroughs to seek the seat representing District 1.
Bingham resident Mark Marcoplos says he’ll challenge incumbent Earl McKee for the District 2 seat representing rural Orange County, and Bonnie Hauser will take on Board Chair Barry Jacobs for the at-large seat.
For the first time in three decades, there’s no incumbent running for Orange County Sheriff. Lindy Pendergrass announced he’ll be retiring after more than thirty years as the county’s top lawman. Already several challengers have put their names forward, including Charles Blackwood, Andy Cagle, Larry Faucette and David Caldwell.
The Orange County School board has four seats up for grabs- that race will be determined in the May primary.
At the same time, the Town of Carrboro will hold a special election to fill the board seat Lydia Lavelle left vacant when she was elected mayor last fall. To date, planning board chair Bethany Chaney is the only candidate to come forward, but others are likely to run.
At the state level, newly-seated House District 50 Representative Graig Meyer will stand for office for the first time, and State Senator Valerie Foushee will be running to keep the seat she was appointed to when Ellie Kinnaird stepped down. House District 56 Representative Verla Insko will be seeking her tenth term.
Last but not least, Superior Court Judges Carl Fox and Allen Baddour are up for re-election, as is District Court Judge Joe Buckner and District Attorney Jim Woodall.
The filing period opens at noon on Monday and runs through the end of the month. The primary election is May 6, the general election is November 4.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/local-candidates-gear-2014-election/
CARRBORO- By a 4-2 vote, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Tuesday opted to hold a special election to fill the seat left vacant when Lydia Lavelle stepped up to serve as mayor earlier this month.
“It is the principle of democracy,” said Alderman Jacquie Gist. “But it’s also getting out there and figuring out what’s going on. We all learn so much when we are out campaigning. Even though [the board] could do a perfectly great job of it, I’d rather turn it over to the electorate.”
The election will be held concurrent with the May 6 primary next year. The cost to the town will be $1,500. That’s a far cry from the town’s first special election held last March, which cost the town $11,000. In that election, Damon Seils ran unopposed and won with 232 votes.
He urged the board to consider the appointment process instead.
“Having a special election for what will effectively be an eighteen-month term, out of a four-year term, just seems like overdoing it a little bit,” said Seils.
Michelle Johnson also supported the idea of a board appointment. She argued changing the process each time creates uncertainty for the public.
“I think it is important to have a clear process and not change it based on whatever we want to do at a given time,” said Johnson.
Most municipalities in the state fill vacancies through appointment, but in 2006 Carrboro leaders requested the General Assembly grant the board the power to call a special election. This came after a contentious appointment process that lasted six weeks, resulting in the appointment of Dan Coleman.
However, following March’s special election, Aldermen reversed course and asked that the board’s power to appoint be reinstated.
During Tuesday’s discussion, several board members seemed split on the question of which to choose. Though Randee Haven-O’Donnell said she initially supported an appointment, she worried the process could prove divisive.
“I have said in the past I support appointment, but I would not want this decision to erode the trust that we have between us on this board,” said Haven-O’Donnell.
In the end, Haven-O’Donnell, Lavelle, Gist and Sammy Slade voted in favor of a May election, while Seils and Johnson were opposed.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/aldermen-opt-special-election-fill-board-vacancy/
CARRBORO – Lydia Lavelle was sworn-in as Carrboro’s new mayor Tuesday evening, making history as North Carolina’s first openly-lesbian mayor.
Lavelle took the oath of office along with Jacquelyn Gist, Randee Haven-O’Donnell and Sammy Slade, who resumed their seats on the Board.
“When I announced this spring that I would be running for Mayor this fall, I said that I would, quote, ‘… promote the values and ideals that have helped Carrboro become one of the most progressive and forward thinking communities in North Carolina,’” said Lavelle, who has served on the Board of Alderman since 2007 .
“I am excited about helping to carry on this rich tradition that is Carrboro. I look forward to more work in our laboratory. Thank you.”
Lavelle ran unopposed for mayor, replacing the now retired Mayor Mark Chilton.
Serving as Mayor of Carrboro since 2005, this year marked the end of Chilton’s fourth and final term. He was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1991 as the youngest ever elected official in North Carolina at the age of 21.
The Board honored the outgoing mayor, presenting him with a plaque of recognition.
Chilton said that this wasn’t the end of his involvement in local government, joking that he only lived a block away from Town Hall.
“I am extremely grateful to the voters of Carrboro for having the opportunity to serve on your Board for the past 10 years,” Chilton said. “It’s been a great honor and most of the time has been a lot of fun.”
Chilton put on his trademark fedora for a moment and then switched to a baseball cap emblazoned with the word “Mayor.” He laughingly said that was the hat in which he did his best mayoral thinking, and then promised to pass it on to Lavelle.
The three returning Board members also had the chance to offer remarks about being re-elected.
Gist, who has served on the Board since 1989, said that the issues which the Town faces are “wonderful problems” that she looked forward to solving.
“I was thinking today about the challenges that we face as a Town, and we are so damn lucky to have the challenges that we have. Half of the [election] campaign was about parking, believe it or not,” Gist said. ”And we still have a lot to talk about with parking. How lucky are we as a small town to have to figure out where to put, or maybe not park, but thinking of other ways of accommodating all the people that want to come to our downtown. That’s a great problem to have.”
Haven-O’Donnell thanked the voters for their support, though she said voter turnout for this municipal election was lower than she had hoped.
“It’s such an honor to serve a community, your hometown that you love so dearly. I look forward to continuing with the work that was started.” Haven O-Donnell
Slade became emotional as he thanked his fellow Board members and the residents of Carrboro for embracing change and progressive ideals.
“This planet we are on is in real danger, and we need examples of how to be different. I am very grateful to this Town for being different—so thank you, Town,” Slade said.
Slade was named as Mayor Pro Tem, as he was the Alderperson with most seniority who had not yet served in the position.
Filling Lavelle’s Seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen
Now that Lavelle has been installed as Mayor, a seat on the Board is open. The Board has called a special meeting next Tuesday to discuss filling the vacancy.
It could be filled through an appointment process, or the Board could instead pass a resolution calling for a special election.
Noteworthy attendees at Tuesday’s Board meeting included Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party Matt Hughes; Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich; Chapel Hill Town Council Member Lee Storrow; and former State Senator and former Mayor of Carrboro, Ellie Kinnaird.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/carrboro-celebrates-ncs-first-openly-lesbian-mayor/