After two public hearings, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted 5-2 Tuesday night to approve the application for a permit to develop a shopping center at the intersection of Old Fayetteville Road and N.C. Highway 54.
A number of the board members expressed in their final comments that they were faced with an internal dilemma over the project, which had been under consideration since 2011. Board of Aldermen members Sammy Slade and Randee Haven-O'Donnell voted against the application.
The proposal for the Shops at Lloyd Farm was scrutinized as the board considered 34 recommendations from the town’s staff and advisory board. The recommendations considered a number of issues relating to the project, from lighting to transportation to green building aspects.
The board discussed a number of the proposals at length during the second hearing, aiming to ensure the development would comply with Carrboro’s land use ordinance.
Board of Aldermen member Jacquelyn Gist said her initial inclination was to vote against the project because she had reservations based on the environmental implications of the development and the standards the developer planned to use when constructing the shopping center.
However, she said she was faced with what she said was an attack on the rule of law and had to comply with the town’s land use ordinance so she would not become a participant in the attack.
Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils echoed these sentiments during his comments, and said the time to make legitimate change was in 2018 when the board at that time voted to rezone the property the development would occupy. He said there was nothing to be done now as the board essentially decided then that the project would proceed.
Board of Aldermen member Bethany Chaney said she knew there would be some give and take with the project and recognized that the public, especially those attending the hearing, were not completely pleased with the process.
“No one is going to be 100 percent satisfied with the outcome,” she said. “No one on the board is 100 percent satisfied.”
Ted Barnes, a partner with Argus Development Group, said he was pleased with the outcome and the project had taken hard work and compromise on the part of the town, developers and the community.
“I think there’s been give and take on everyone’s part going through this, so I’m sure that none of the parties are 100 percent satisfied,” he said. “I hope that we have a project that once it’s up and running, everybody will be appreciative of it and will be successful. I’m sure it will be.”
Tuesday’s hearing consisted of several testimonies from Carrboro residents speaking on the proposal alongside the judicial proceedings.
Allen Spalt, who is a 35-year resident of Carrboro and a former member of the Board of Aldermen, spoke to the board about issues relating to the development. He said in his speech that the town needs more transparency from the developer after he claimed the mention of traffic gridlock would be negligible.
“No one in the neighborhood thinks the impact will be negligible,” he said. “Some have already moved away because of the concerns over future traffic.”
Before the board deliberated and voted, Spalt pleaded with the board members and told them that it wasn’t too late to improve at the margins with their decision, even though they had already rezoned the property.
“It is actually not too late to decide it doesn’t meet the standards for health, safety, welfare and compatibility with the neighborhood,” he said.
Spalt said he thought the most interesting portion of the meeting was during the voting process, where Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle had to ask multiple times for a second to the motions to have the project proceed.
He said he thought the town would have a much better development if those on the board who remained from last year had expressed that same reservation during the vote to rezone the property.
“What’s going to be built is a very ordinary shopping center, with a grocery store right across the highway from another shopping center with grocery store," he said. "They each have gas stations and a couple of restaurants."
He said he thought Carrboro could make better use of the land than the proposed development.
“It’s a real loss, not for me and my family, but for the town. It’s a lost opportunity. It’s one of the last really big pieces of property that could be commercially developed in town, and we got ordinary,” he said. “Carrboro should be more than ordinary, and that’s not what we got.”
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