Will the third time be the charm? Can the Carrboro Board of Adjustment complete a twice-continued public hearing and make a decision Wednesday night on developer Will Stronach’s application to build a Family Dollar discount store on Alabama Avenue? This highly controversial proposal has enraged residents of this small, closely knit, predominately African American neighborhood for months.
Two weeks ago, nearly 40 plan opponents presented encouragingly well-researched and articulately delivered reasons why Stronach’s application to pave over an obscure ephemeral stream and build a store with less than the required 40 parking spaces, should be denied. Denied, they articulated, on grounds of environmental impact, saying the project doesn’t honor neighborhood history or conform to general Carrboro values.
Scores of angry residents, including former Alderman Braxton Foushee and NAACP president Minister Robert Campbell presented passionate pleas for a “not in my neighborhood” case. Alabama Avenue resident Catherine Adamson and others offered well-researched exposés against Dollar General’s pay practices in other towns. Then developer Will Stronach added his name to the sign-up sheet late in the night, so he could have the last word, one more chance to convince the Board of the project’s environmental and job-creating good points. Reading from notes, not once did Stronach address even one of the neighbors’ concerns or even look at the audience of dissenters.
Many long-time well-respected Carrboro residents sit on the quasi-judicial Board of Adjustment, including Carrboro native and author Richard Ellington, and all-around volunteer and WCHL Commentator Catherine Devine. Chair David Collins runs meetings by the book, like a presiding mayor, demanding respect for all speakers while allowing everyone’s point of view.
Town Hall will again be packed June 6th, as spectators look for clues in the Board’s deliberation and perhaps ask more questions of the applicant. If the Board decides on emotional grounds, we’d get a slam-dunk NO! But, after examining each point of the lengthy checklist, I think the Board will reject the variance on technical grounds, thus making a vote on Stronach’s Special Use Permit application moot. If the board rejects the variance application, Stronach could appeal to the Orange County Superior Court, or just walk away.
So stay tuned.