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The Daily Tar Heel

Aldermen Refine Vision for Downtown

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen met Tuesday night to review the Downtown Visioning report and provide direction on what elements of the documents it would like staff to address.

The report is part of the Vision 2020 plan, a comprehensive guide for developing downtown Carrboro that was created by residents, officials and the commissioned group Walkable Communities.

James Harris, Carrboro's community and economic development director, helped the board sort through the plan's documents piece by piece. Together, they broke the projects into two sections: public works and those projects that were "regulatory in nature."

The first section dealt with historical landmarks. Members discussed what could be considered historical properties in the town.

Board member Mark Dorosin warned the board that not everything old can be considered historical. "We have to narrow and be more specific about historical landmarks," he said. "It's the architectural construction of a building that makes something historical."

Parking was also a major concern. While most parking spaces are behind businesses, members want to develop a better parking situation for downtown Carrboro. They discussed joining business back lots, requiring businesses to share lots. Dorosin suggested providing an incentive to businesses who share their parking.

Harris suggested a parking deck, a project the board thinks is important but extremely expensive.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist also proposed providing an incentive to businesses where employers ask employees to find alternate means of getting to work. "Employees shouldn't drive to work for lots of reasons but mainly to increase parking access. More parking spots increase business as well," Gist said.

Alderman Diana McDuffee recommended creating a parking task force where members would hire private companies to research parking methods to increase the accessibility and spaces in downtown Carrboro. Other parking ideas included increased free and paid street parking with time limits.

The board discussed imposing a sidewalk width requirement, mandating that all sidewalks be 8 feet wide. Brick trim around the sidewalks also is something the board might require.

The board also expressed concern about the area's poor signage, including pedestrian walks and traffic lights. Members highlighted problem areas in downtown that need increased signage.

The board went on to discuss regulatory issues that require immediate attention from its staff.

Creating a downtown identity is of major concern to the town, and the board is working to improve both the streetscape and landscape master plan.

Mayor Mike Nelson proposed having more benches and garbage cans downtown, as well as increasing flowers and landscaped areas.

While revising the town's look is of major concern, the board showed little interest in any sort of town theme, as cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh have done.

Nelson said, "Carrboro needs to have a personality without rules."

The City Editor can be reached

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