Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos contacted the attorney general’s office in November about whether Chapel Hill can actually enact the measure — and Assistant Attorney General Jess Mekeel said state law preempts the measure, so in his opinion the town could not enforce the regulation.
“I just don’t think you pass laws that you don’t have the authority to pass,” said Town Council member Matt Czajkowski.
But other members thought that the ban could have value as an educational tool.
“We are really not trying to arrest people, we are trying to make them safer drivers,” said Council member Jim Ward.
Artist Gordon Huether presented his vision for an art installation on the Rosemary side of the 140 West development to the council.
Huether, a nationally renowned public artist from California, was given a contract for the project in 2008, but it was later delayed because of the economy.
“We’ve been stop and go, stop and go, and we’re almost on a full green button. So that’s what we’re hoping from you this evening,” Huether said.
He said that the project, a horizontal installation of waving metal that will adorn the wall, will be lacquered and colored tar heel blue and red and decorated with the silhouettes of trees.
“It’s very important to recognize that this is mostly a pedestrian experience,” he said.
Council members also recognized the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of America. Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt presented girl scouts with a certificate and declared this “Girl Scout week” in Chapel Hill.
In its final public agenda item, the council voted to join other municipalities in formally urging voters to oppose what is colloquially called N.C. Amendment One, a measure to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The Council had previously formally urged the legislature not to put the amendment to referendum.
“I’m ready to have people be more mindful on the road, and this is one step in that direction,” Town Council member Donna Bell said of the cell phone ban.
“Municipal bodies and county bodies across the state are chiming in,” Kleinschmidt said of what he said is a growing movement opposing Amendment One.