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Carrboro to make final decision on library rezoning petition

The possibility of a freestanding library in Carrboro will be discussed tonight at the Board of Aldermen meeting.

This meeting will conclude with the decision of whether to continue considering a rezoning petition that would allow the county to build the Southwest Branch Library at 210 Hillsborough Road.

The site is a 2.69-acre property located near Carrboro Elementary School. The location is currently zoned for residential uses, but the county submitted a petition to change the zoning to allow for the construction of a library of up to 20,000 square feet.

“The site was chosen largely because it was available,” said Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs. “It’s also close and walkable from downtown.”

The property would cost the county about $600,000, Jacobs said.

Orange County has been searching for a location for a library branch to serve the southern part of the county for a number of years, said Steve Yuhasz, vice-chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

“Several library studies done over the last 15 years or so have pointed to Carrboro as a good location,” Yuhasz said.

Carrboro is currently home to the county’s Carrboro Branch Library in McDougle Middle School as well as the Cybrary, which provides access to computers and wireless Internet.

Both libraries would consolidate if a new branch were built.

“The current libraries have restricted hours and restricted service to the community,” Coleman said. “Through consolidation there would be more services available to patrons in Carrboro and a higher level of availability.”

But Hillsborough Road resident Barbara Rubish said many problems would arise should the zoning allow for the library’s construction.

“This is a big problem because it’s only zoned for a library, but in 20 years, what then?” Rubish said. “We’ll have a big honking building in a residential neighborhood.”

Rubish also cited increased traffic and difficulty monitoring the people entering the neighborhood as potential issues.

Costs for the construction of a library on the site are still undetermined because many of the building’s details are unknown. The current estimate is around $7.5 million, said Yuhasz.

“This number is based off a design of 20,000 feet, which would be the largest possible building,” said Yuhasz. “It’s really just a ballpark figure at this time.”

If the Board continues considering the rezoning, a decision on the request will be made April 19.

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