The Carrboro Town Council voted unanimously to approve an exemption for after-hours concrete work at the 203 Project construction site, with an amendment to limit work done over the weekend.
The proposed building, which is located on 203 S. Greensboro St., will eventually be home to the Orange County Southern Branch Library, Orange County Skills Development Center and WCOM Radio. Current estimates for the project say that construction will be completed by spring 2024.
According to Carrboro Capital Projects Manager Ben Schmadeke, the 203 Project will require approximately eight after-hours concrete pours throughout the construction process to complete the building and parking deck.
Doing so, however, would generate machine noise overnight — something which is currently prohibited within 300 feet of residential structures by the Carrboro Town Code.
Schmadeke said noise would be created by several unavoidable sources, including early-morning concrete deliveries, the concrete and pumping trucks, vibrations and the back-up alarms on construction vehicles.
“We are requesting that the council consider making an exception for the 203 building,” he said.
To gain this approval, Schmadeke proposed several measures to mitigate the amount of noise for neighboring residents and businesses. Some of these measures include notifying nearby residents one week in advance of expected work, muffling alarms to minimum OSHA standards and making a good-faith effort to minimize construction sounds during after-hour pours.
He also said the council has previously granted exemptions to other overnight construction projects in the area.
Carrboro Mayor Pro Tem Susan Romaine said they were concerned about the potential for overnight construction work done during the weekend.
“Would it work if we were to say that those pours would not occur on a Saturday or Sunday morning before 3 a.m.?” she said. “In other words, could the pours occur just Monday through Friday?”
This concern was shared by Carrboro Town Council member Eliazar Posada, who said he found it important that work done over the weekend was limited as much as possible.
In response, Robert Eagle, a senior project manager for Barnhill Contracting Co., said that while overnight pours were unlikely to occur on a Sunday, Saturday might be needed as a fallback option in case of rain or other issues during the work week.
“Sometimes, you have to make exceptions and make that pour on Saturday,” he said.
Additionally, Schmadeke said late-night construction often required bright lights — something not addressed by the presented mitigation plan, which instead explicitly focused on reducing disturbances created by noise.
To combat this issue, Schmadeke proposed both minimizing the use of lights and pointing them away from the residential areas located south of the construction area.
Council member Randee Haven-O'Donnell said they felt it was important that all Carrboro residents who would be affected by overnight noise know in advance. They noted, for instance, that a map of affected residents didn’t include some of the residences to the west and south of the construction site.
Council member Sammy Slade shared this concern and recommended using community email lists to better inform those in residential areas around the construction site about expected overnight noise.
The council ultimately moved unanimously to approve the exemption with an amendment to exclude pours on Sundays and minimize them on Saturdays.
"We want to make sure that this building is done, we want to make sure that it's for the community, but also I don't want to give undue hardship to folks," Posada said.
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