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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro Town Council discusses Westwood Cemetery, gas-powered landscaping equipment


Carrboro Town Hall stands tall on Friday, Sep. 15, 2023.

During their Tuesday meeting, the Carrboro Town Council discussed appointments to Carrboro's Greenways Commission, the master plan for the Westwood Cemetery and the use of gas-powered landscaping equipment.

What's new?

  • Mayor Pro Tem Susan Romaine said there is a lack of diversity on the Greenway Commission, especially considering that the greenway system aims to connect communities across Carrboro.
    • The council agreed to approve the proposed appointments to the Greenway Commission but emphasized moving forward with a renewed focus on diverse recruitment for all commission appointments. 
  • Ben Schmadeke, the capital projects manager for the Carrboro town works department, and Peter Fernandez, president of Carter van Dyke Associates, presented the Westwood Cemetery master plan.
    • The presentation included a plan to create a centralized area for on-site committal services at Westwood and a number of flexible burial options, including a natural burial. 
    • Community members August Larson, Doug Brower, and Bob Proctor spoke against the master plan presented. They said they want to preserve open green space surrounding the cemetery for recreation. 
  • Jon Hartman-Brown, Carrboro’s economic development director, and Zachary Kier, assistant to the Town manager, gave a presentation on the use of gas-powered landscaping equipment. The council asked Town staff to consider the possibility of banning gas-powered landscaping equipment in Carrboro to reduce environmental and noise pollution.
    • When considering noise pollution, presenters compared the current Carrboro noise statute to the Chapel Hill statute, which specifies that equipment cannot create noise above 65 decibels when measured from 50 feet away.  
    • Hartman-Brown and Kier said a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers is unlikely to be upheld in N.C. courts. However, a decibel limit and guidelines on acceptable hours of use would likely be legal constraints. 
    • They also presented a survey of four local businesses conducted by Town staff, which uncovered concerns about the cost of compliance with a gas-powered equipment ban for small landscaping businesses. 
    • Hartman-Brown and Kier ultimately offered three different recommendations for consideration by the council. These recommendations are as follows: expand and utilize the existing noise ordinance to include landscaping equipment, create a new ordinance that would limit the permitted decibel level of noise produced by landscaping equipment, or make no changes at this time.
    • Council members brought up a multitude of worries when considering the three propositions in the presentation — including concern for businesses, concern for the health and wellness of landscape workers and concerns for the environment. 

What decisions were made? 

  • Council members’ responses to the Westwood Cemetery plan were varied, though multiple members expressed that they did not want to re-enter the planning phase of the project even though there were still some points of contention.
    • Council member Danny Nowell offered support for the plan as presented with slight amendments and put forth a motion to accept the plan with those amendments. The motion was seconded by council member Eliazar Posada.   
    • Council members Sammy Slade and Randee Haven-O’Donnell both expressed they would not vote in favor of adopting the plan before a vote on the motion was held.
    • Nowell’s motion to accept the plan passed in a 5-2 vote. 
  • In regard to the discussion of landscaping equipment, Slade proposed a motion that included drafting a decibel ordinance, similar to the Chapel Hill statute, to take effect on Oct. 1, 2025, and added a list of potential modifications to the existing ordinance as proposed by Romaine. The motion passed unanimously. 
    • Mayor Damon Seils made a motion to defer to the climate action team for recommendations on the best ways to accelerate the electrification of landscape equipment in Carrboro. This motion also passed unanimously. 

What's next? 

The Carrboro Town Council will hold its next regular council meeting on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. The meeting can be attended in person at the Carrboro Town Hall or livestreamed via the Carrboro Town Council website. The agenda can be found here.

@DTHCityState |

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