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The Daily Tar Heel

Residents voice concerns, charter school opening may delay

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen tabled a public hearing Tuesday for a contentious development that would bring a charter school and commercial and residential space to the town.

The Claremont South development would include the Howard & Lillian Lee Scholars Charter School, which was approved to open for the 2013-14 school year by the State Board of Education last September.

The development would also include a 15,200-square-foot commercial building and 84 apartments.

Claremont South has faced opposition from some Carrboro residents who are concerned about its environmental impact and the proposed charter school.

Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said the developer’s plans have changed three times in three years, and it is now applying for a modification to the conditional use permit.

Friends of Bolin Creek, an environmental conservation organization, is protesting the development’s impact on Bolin Creek. In February, the organization urged its supporters to write letters to the Board of Aldermen.

Tom Barta, a Carrboro resident, wrote to the Board of Aldermen after receiving the Friends of Bolin Creek notification.

“Every added development on the creek damages the creek,” he said.

Barta said he was concerned with plans to use an open field for construction.

“My specific thing I don’t like is that it will be cutting down more trees and using basically open space,” he said. “I think it is a better idea to use land that is closer in and previously developed.”

Haven-O’Donnell said she also has concerns about the project’s environmental impact.

“That meadow mitigates a lot of storm water,” she said. “Anything built close to that creek is going to affect the storm water flow to the creek.”

Residents have also raised concerns about the effects of Lee Charter.

Haven-O’Donnell said traffic flow in the area is a major concern due to the many schools located off the same roadway.

Construction can’t begin until the board approves the conditional use permit, so the school’s August opening date might have to be pushed back or moved to a temporary location.

Jeffrey Nash, spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said it takes about two years to build a school. He said he doesn’t think the school could be finished by August.

Nash said a potential lack of transportation and special education classes are also concerns.

“I don’t believe that’s public education as it’s supposed to be,” he said.

Charter schools use public money but aren’t restricted by the same statewide rules as public schools as long as they meet charter goals.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton encouraged residents to attend the public hearing.

“That’s what the public hearing is for. That’s their opportunity or anyone’s opportunity to voice their concerns,” he said.

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