CARRBORO - Carrboro's plans for future expansion have sparked discussion among residents and local officials concerned about the town's atmosphere and growth.
The possibility of upward growth in the form of taller buildings brought voices of both support and dissention at the Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night.
James Morgan of 203 W. Weaver St. argued at the public hearing that tall buildings are something that should be considered carefully.
"A tall building can be wonderful," he said. "I think there is the possibility that under the new ordinance, there will be some very big projects offered."
Patricia McGuire, a planning administrator for the Carrboro Planning Department, said the town could amend its current planning ordinance to promote growing up, not out. Adding floors to standing buildings downtown would generate millions of square feet, she said.
McGuire said taller buildings could present the problem of shadowing or an oppressive sense of enclosure. But she also said shadowing could be relieved by an ordinance establishing buildings set back from the sidewalk and by setting height limitations.
As the hearing continued, the discussion moved away from individual buildings' impact to the effects of development on the town. Residents expressed fear that changes could sacrifice local flavor.
"It still has its blue collar residents ... and diversity is at the top of my list," Morgan said. "One of the things we can do is require diversity (of these projects) in the buildings. Not just in the inhabitants, but diversity in occupations, employment, services and public services."
One possible way of encouraging diversity includes a building design placing retail at the bottom floor, offices on the second story and a residence at the top.
Others, like Jack Haggerty of 401 Oak Road, said they did not think the amendments should be approved so quickly. "I think the board should wait for extensive review," Haggerty said. "It's not like we can't wait. There is still open space."
Alderman Jacquelyn Gist concurred and suggested the approval be put off.
"I'd like to keep it open," she said. "I'm not willing to change my downtown just to get a project going. We need to remember that this is intense stuff."
But Alderman Joal Broun urged the board to adopt the amendments in the interest of Carrboro's long-term planning goals. "What we need to discuss is what is controversial and what is not," she said. "I'm worried that we'll lose our focus on the long term goal."
Mayor Mike Nelson decided to continue public hearings until the board was sure of popular opinion.
"There is public support as was displayed tonight, but I believe we'll make a political mistake if we do not build broad-based support."
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