The Carrboro Board of Alderman discussed affordable housing, parking and environmental issues in its meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting began with a poetry reading followed by a proclamation of the commencement of community planning month. They also announced that a proclamation of domestic violence awareness will be issued in the next few days.
Shelley Welch, a public commenter, discussed an issue regarding her farmland and Merritt’s Gravel Pit. She said she had been coming to the board's meetings every Tuesday for the last month with concerns about the mining practices conducted by Tony Merritt. She claimed that Merritt's work is trespassing past the approved mining area.
An update was presented on a letter sent out to Merritt on Sept. 26 calling for a remediation plan within 30 days of issuance of the letter. The plan must either remove the road from the buffered area to restore a natural waterway. In addition, the town asked him to stop all grating, filling and excavating on the property that is not a part of the approved mining area. The town also asked him to comply with the certificate of occupancy for construction on their property.
The town quickly moved through the consent agenda:
- The minutes from Sept. 10 and Sept. 17, the Economic Development Report for the Month of October and a Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release between the Town of Carrboro and the Arts Center, Inc., were all three unanimously approved.
- Some concerns were raised about the status of Bolin Creek restoration, but article two, Stormwater Utility Monthly Report, was approved unanimously.
- The board scheduled a naming meeting to discuss renaming the board to be gender-neutral on Nov. 12.
An update on affordable housing was presented by Rebecca Buzzard, project manager for the town, and Anne-Marie Vanaman, management assistant for the town. This report indicated the town is progressing toward the 2024 goals. In terms of home ownership, the town set a goal of 85 affordable homes, and as of July 2019, there are 70 permanently affordable home units owned. For affordable rentals, the goal for 2024 is 470, and as of July 2019, there are 370 permanently affordable housing rental units.
Moving forward, the town will explore the possibility of creating tiny homes and expanding use of town-owned land to grow the available affordable housing.
An analysis of the business environment of the Carrboro Business Community provided insight on the status of local businesses and their needs. The study, which surveyed 77 respondents, indicated that over 60 percent felt as though they were having “moderate growth” given the state of the local economy. The greatest concern expressed by these businesses was about the need for parking in the area.
An update about a requested study about paid parking and enforcement was discussed. The board discussed next steps and received an update about the request.
Two qualified bidders for the potential paid parking project have come forward, but the board was unable to come to a decision on next steps. Some members are concerned with the idea of making downtown parking paid. The logistics of having some paid parking and some free parking spaces was also concerning to some.
The board requested more information from the study consultants before making a decision.
The last item on the agenda was an update on the Energy and Climate Protection Plan and Community Climate Action Plan Implementation. Three current projects were summarized: vehicle fuel, electricity and LED streetlights.
Two proposals were submitted on Sept. 30 to the Volkswagen Emissions Diesel and Bus Program to get new diesel refuse trucks and participate in the compressed natural gas (CNG) pilot program. This is projected to reduce total municipal gas emissions by 18-26% per CNG vehicle, like buses.
A new roof on Town Hall is a part of the building electricity project, where the town staff said it will reduce emissions through a reflective roof.
The conversion of all streetlights to LED lights is currently underway. This will reduce municipal gas emissions by 10.5 percent when completed, according to a presentation from the town.
A volunteer project that focuses on removing invasive species of vines that are climbing on native trees is just beginning. Based on the turnout to the first few events, a determination will be made on whether a more permanent group will be formed.
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