The Chapel Hill Town Council discussed its Language Access Plan and on-street parking for the Burch Kove neighborhood among other things at its Wednesday meeting.
Town Council approves Language Access Plan
Sarah Viñas, assistant director for the office of housing and community, asked the Town Council to consider approving the Language Access Plan, which outlines policies that ensure limited English proficiency residents can communicate with the Town in the language they prefer.
“Our work in this area is an important step to increasing community engagement with members who've historically faced institutional barriers to participating in local government,” Viñas said. “Our plan is rooted in the specific recommendation that we received from immigrant and refugee residents, and provides a starting place for us to build stronger connections and reduce barriers for Chapel Hill residents who speak languages other than English.”
The Town voted unanimously to approve the Language Access Plan, which will provide interpretation and translation services for things like emergency communication and public meetings.
Council hears evaluation about "Ban the Box" policy
Three students from the UNC School of Social Work and advocates from the Community Empowerment Fund made a presentation after being tasked by council member Nancy Oates to evaluate the “Ban the Box” policy in Chapel Hill. The policy, passed in 2012, eliminates the box on job applications that asks applicants whether or not they have a criminal record.
By looking at Durham, the three UNC students found that the policy doesn't fully eliminate employer biases.
“'Ban the Box' is simply a Band-Aid solution because it doesn't address the root cause of the problem since we keep funneling people of color into the criminal justice system disproportionately,” one of the students said. “Our suggestion for the Town is to seek out the voices of those most impacted by the policy and the criminal justice system.”
The council did not discuss the information.
Town Council recognizes "Care to Share Day"
Oates also announced a proclamation mandating Nov. 21 as “Care to Share Day” in Chapel Hill. The Care to Share program is a partnership between the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and Orange Water and Sewer Authority to provide water and sewer assistance to local families.
The program runs on donations to help local low-income families pay for monthly water and sewer bills. OWASA members can add a donation onto their monthly water bill, or make a one-time donation directly through the Care to Share website.
Fire chief proposes additional on-street parking
Chapel Hill Fire Chief Matt Sullivan brought to the Council’s attention the issue of on-street parking in the Burch Kove neighborhood. On-street parking has caused traffic issues such as conflicts with larger vehicles, including with school buses.
“Our traffic engineering staff have gone out to the neighborhood and identified 20 additional parking spots that could be added,” Sullivan said. “I’d like to point out that this would be a temporary solution, while I encourage the Town to come together to find a more viable solution.”
Sullivan said other solutions could include restricting parking to Burch Kove residents, creating one-way traveling in the neighborhood and exploring the possibility of adding parking spaces on nearby Seawell School Road.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger asked the fire chief to come back to the council with an ordinance to designate 20 on-street parking spaces in the neighborhood, as well as a unified response plan from the Burch Kove residents.
Council recognizes Small Business Saturday
A proclamation was passed declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Chapel Hill as “Small Business Saturday.” Local residents will be incentivized to visit local businesses on this day with deals and discounts, and business owners can promote their discounts using the hashtag "#webuylocal."
“By recognizing Small Business Saturday, you are saying small businesses matter and have a measurable effect on the community,” said Tom Proctor, owner of Vacuum Cleaner Hospital and Central Vacuum. “According to the national federation of business, 67 cents of every dollar spent locally stays in the local economy. You just can't beat the economic benefits of investing in local business.”
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