The intersection of Alabama Avenue and Jones Ferry Road is the first impression of Carrboro for visitors entering town from Highway 54. It is important to the Central Business District and the Farmer's Market that this section of Jones Ferry Rd makes a good first impression. This is the Gateway to Carrboro.
Alabama Avenue is a historically African American neighborhood. It is a pleasant, quiet, tree-covered residential street. Many families have lived on the street for generations; a few are new arrivals. The residents range in age from young children to retirees. Most of us are homeowners and some of us are owners or managers of local small businesses.
Raleigh-based Stronach Properties is proposing construction of an 8,000 square foot Family Dollar store on our street. All the trees that shield our neighborhood from Jones Ferry Rd would be cut, including many old hardwoods. An ephemeral stream would be paved over. The rainwater it would normally filter would be diverted around the lot and discharged into a ditch. We will be overwhelmed with traffic, including 18-wheeler delivery trucks arriving daily. There will be bright parking lot lights at night, loud noises before sunrise, and the smell of a dumpster 40 feet from our neighbor’s bedroom window. The peace and harmony of our close-knit community would be shattered.
In addition to these problems, there is also a public safety issue. The NC Department of Transportation recently completed a traffic study on the adjoining section of Jones Ferry Road. They recommended a road diet including medians and a crosswalk near the intersection of Jones Ferry and Davie. These changes will greatly improve road safety in the area, however they are still far in the future. In the meantime, crossing from the bus stop or surrounding apartment complexes to the proposed store will be unsafe.
Because the stream buffer on the site cannot be destroyed without a variance from the requirements of the Carrboro Land Use Ordinance, the Board of Adjustment will hold a public hearing to decide if the project may proceed. At the same hearing, they will decide whether to allow the developer to clear cut the site and reduce the required number of parking spaces, so that the over-sized building can fit on this small lot.
The developer has resisted even small changes to the site design. The Town of Carrboro has repeatedly asked them to consider moving the dumpster and loading dock to the opposite side of the building, to shield the neighborhood from the sights and sounds of garbage pick-up and tractor-trailer deliveries. The developer refused, citing the need for giant trucks to maneuver to the loading dock. Their representative claimed that the current design is the only configuration of the lot that will make it possible to fit such large vehicles into such a cramped space.
It is clear that this store would be a poor fit to Carrboro. Our town prides itself on racial justice and progressive labor policy. Family Dollar has a long history of labor lawsuits filed against it by employees for unpaid overtime and wrongful firing. Stronach Properties touts the flow of taxes to the town from this development. However, any sales tax revenues generated by the store for the Town of Carrboro would likely cannibalize revenues from thrift stores nearby, such as the Dollar General located just one mile further along Highway 54. The Board of Adjustment should reject the variance and SUP requested by Stronach Properties for this development.
Please support us at the public hearing (Wednesday, May 16th, 7.30PM at Town Hall) and by talking with your friends about upholding the values of Carrboro. Visit us at GatewayToCarrboro.org to learn more about our fight to protect our little neighborhood.
[Adapted from a letter in the May 10, 2012, edition of the Carrboro Citizen.—Editors]