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Friday January 28th

Carrboro parking problems continue

	<p>Southern Rail has had parking issues recently. Overflow cars from Southern Rail are parking in Carr Mill Mall, which may be affecting the businesses in the mall.</p>
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Southern Rail has had parking issues recently. Overflow cars from Southern Rail are parking in Carr Mill Mall, which may be affecting the businesses in the mall.

Carr Mill Mall’s simmering parking issues flared Sunday — and the town of Carrboro has begun a study to gauge the scope of its parking problems.

Set to the soundtrack of the Carrboro Music Festival, seven cars were towed from the shopping center’s lot in a two and a half hour span.

The mall’s property manager Nathan Milian said being protective of the mall’s parking lot is critical for businesses.

“We have 40 businesses that are located on Carr Mill,” Milian said. “We have 40 businesses that rely on that lot for their employees and their customers.”

Milian said the mall tried to warn potentially illegal parkers, but had to deal with obstinate violators.

“On Sunday alone there were over 300 people that were warned not to park here or they would be towed.” he said.

Carrboro Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle said she thought the towing was not extensive.

She said the town planned thoroughly for parking for the festival.

“We had several town lots available for the music festival including, for the first time, several floors at the new parking deck located beside the Hampton Inn,” Lavelle said.

Lavelle said confusion was the main source of the parking conflict, and it is an issue being discussed by the Aldermen.

“There are many people who think that Carr Mill Mall has a public parking lot,” Lavelle said. “We are working to try to make visitors aware of where they can and cannot park with proper signage and the development of visitor-friendly policies.”

Southern Rail

Milian has also been involved in a lengthy dispute concerning parking for Southern Rail restaurant and bar.

Milian first brought a complaint against the owners of Southern Rail in March 2013. He argued the restaurant did not have enough parking spaces and was in violation of a town ordinance that requires a certain number of parking spaces for a restaurant’s total seating.

The town began negotiations with Southern Rail in June.

Mike Benson, owner of the restaurant, said he had removed outdoor seating and was now in compliance with the ordinance.

Trish Maguire, the town’s planning director, said her records indicate the restaurant is still not compliant.

Milian said the overflow cars from Southern Rail are parking in Carr Mill Mall, directly next to the restaurant.

“Customers are having to park on our parking lot which adversely affects our business,” Milian said.

Town’s Response

Alderman Sammy Slade said he thought the towing during the festival was ill-timed, but acknowledged that private property owners have a right to enforce use of their lots.

“I find it unfortunate that Carr Mill management misses the spirit of Carrboro Day and the reality that, likely, people parking anywhere in our downtown benefits all businesses,” Slade said in an e-mail to Town Manager David Andrews.

Benson said towing from Carr Mill Mall hurts the town as a whole.

“I’m watching tow trucks go in and out all day, and that is not good for Carrboro,” Benson said.

Milian said inadequate parking in downtown Carrboro causes problems for Carr Mill Mall and he wants to be involved in future dialogue about the issue with the town.

Andrews said he hopes a future town parking study, which is a year away from completion, will help mitigate the public’s discontent with parking.

“We are currently working on the scope of work and we anticipate a public process,” Andrews said. “We are hoping this study will answer those questions.”

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