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Good evening,Thanks for participating in this election forum and for stepping up and running for office. I guess for me the biggest difference between forums over the past few election cycles and this year is that the economy is in much better shape. The times are not without their peril, especially given the stalling state economy, but the town and our area seems to be on the rebound.So, here’s Question One — While things are finally looking up, Carrboro is not without its challenges. Name one or two of things you see as top priorities and how you think we can find solutions.
Hi Kirk, Are you asking for challenges generally or economic ones specifically?
Anything you see as a key issue facing the town.
Increasing quality jobs to address the lack of middle class employment opportunities and addressing affordable housing that people can afford to grow old in. In order to attract quality jobs for our residents, we need to tout our educated workforce and quality of life that companies seek for their employees as well as create deeper bonds to UNC to help graduates obtain experience and opportunities to start their own businesses.To address the affordable housing crisis, we need to devote more town efforts to bring together stakeholder groups to increase our coop housing developments and other non traditional housing.
If I had to pick just two priorities, I'd say the first is strengthening and expanding Carrboro's tax base by promoting our vibrant local economy and our entrepreneurial, professional services and creative class niches. One way we can do this is by furthering the work of the Local Living Economy Task Force, advancing its recommendations. Another thing we can do is engage in the discussion and visioning of a Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center, as proposed by the ArtsCenter and others. Finally, we can expand the Revolving Loan fund we established for entrepreneurial ventures and start-ups. The second would be to persist in environmental conservation and protection, and to pursue alternative energy options for the Town of Carrboro. Some ways to do this include:
Jacquelyn GistWith so many it is hard to pick oe or 2.We are facing a leg. in Raleigh which is activley working to decrease our ability to provide the type of government and policies our community wants.One specific example is the pending decrease in our ability to protect our environment,we may soon not be able to have environmental regualtions stronger then the state or feds.Following Damon's lead the BOA and town staff are working to tighten any "loop holes" in our environmental regualations before the GOA meets again next year. This is very important.Other ways that the GOA has decreased our ability to respond to the needs and values of our community include our no longer being able to ban handguns from paly grounds,greenways and parks and our right to offer a full range of health care options to our female employees.Another major challange,an on going one,it how to maitain our sense of place andcommunity as we welcome and recruit new businesses and build new homes. I think we are doinf a fairly good job of this but it will always be a challange.Supporting and recruiting businesse like FleetFeet,which come to CArrboro because of our unique sense of place is a good start.Continuing to support our exisitng businesses through our new branding procees is another.I am currently working with 2 interns who are developing an interactive map and app to encourage support of local businesses. Design guidelines and neighborhood buffers also work to preserve our sense of place.
Try to wrap it up folks.
A top priority for me is the continuation of work in economic development that is rooted in local ownership and import substitution by implementing some of the action items described in the local living economy task force recommendationsA local living economy:o Strengthens Carrboro's, vitality, tax base and walk-abilityo Keeps money re-circulating locallyo Reduces environmental impactAnother top priority for me is Confront Climate Change. I will continue work on reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.o Creating a year-by-year plan integrated with Carrboro's 20/20 vision for achieving the target.o Coordinating and integrating the plan with initiatives by non-governmental community entities such as Solarize Carrboro.Both of these issues are broad and encompass much; a specific example of how these two issues intersect is with parking and the need for balancing the goal of more dense development where appropriate downtown with the reality that Carrboro is laid out with bottlenecks north-south and east west. We are going to have a parking study that will allow for us to have a point of departure for meeting downtown and citizen needs for parking comparing where demand stands today with ways in which to ramp down parking needs without affecting our local businesses through a change of citizen habits. We could meet parking reduction goals similar to how we have done with lanfill waste and recycling (i.e. single occupancy vehicles, more bus ridership, more handicap parking, etc..).
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One big concern is the state of the town’s aging infrastructure. There have been several messy and expensive failures over the past few years. What should the town do to stay ahead of updating its infrastructure?
Can you provide some examples of the "messy and expensive failures" you mentioned?
A couple that stand out are the sewer lines on Main Street, which knocked several businesses out of commission and led to costly repairs; and the failure of the roadbed under Weaver Street.
It is difficult to anticipate potential failures of aging infrastructure other than continually monitor it for signs of failure. It would be better to fix it rather than fully replace something, but it will still require significant resources to replace. We need to utilize our existing water sewer connections when new developments occur to ensure they are not extended in an inefficient way. In terms of roadbed failure, we need to redirect heavy traffic off of our town maintained roads and make more space for walkers, cyclists, and transit users. Few of our town maintained roads see the traffic that Weaver street receives.
Jacquelyn GistThe June 30th floods were a result of an intense amount of rain fall in a short period of time which overwhelemded our strom water system.As we face Climate Change not know what to expect the only certainy is unceratiny.I have asked town staff,as Sammy has also done,to do several things including examining our exisitng infrastructe for flaws,I also want thhe town towork with HOA's and property owners to clean out culverts and improve detention ponds.Those are the easy steps.I have also ask the town to work with OwASA to determine if our current pipes and system need to be enlarged to deal with increased rain intensity In additon to upgrading storm water we need to continue upgrading our sewer systems,in the older parts of town we have pipes as old as the building.Making a low/no intrest loan fund available to property owners helps to ease the burden,we also have some limited monies to help individual homeowners with sewer issues.
I feel that the town has been doing a good job at keeping up with its capital infrastructure needs through the Capital Improvement Program. The latest most visible project was Weaver Street Reconstruction, this was pretty smooth. The fire station was also built and I wouldn't have called that messy nor an expensive failure.The recent floods are an area that a lot of folks are now talking about and may be a place for us to look at. We must recognize though that we are entering a time that one author calls "the long emergency," climate change has put us into another planet. Author on climate change Bill McKibben suggests that we call Earth: 'Eaarth'. Building pipes to keep up with these changes will be costly and we should pass the tab onto the large corporations that are most responsible such as Duke Energy a company that still does business as usual, externalizing costs, burning significant amounts of greenhouse gas producing coal and natural gas.The sewer lines on Main Street serving many iconic businesses are an example of how the town can support private business infrastructure --businesses that are vital for the economic vitality of our downtown. I proposed that the quarter cent sales tax, a portion meant for economic development, that was approved by county referendum recently be used; Carrboro requested help to the county to fix this issue in our downtown ( I believe in economic development that supports locally owned businesses), the county has helped us significantly with this cost.We should continue with the capital Improvement program process, if there are projects that we see needing to be implemented sooner then later these can be weighed against other already identified projects and prioritization can occur thereafter.
Yes, it's true there have been limitations to Carrboro's infrastructure, highlighted by the recent floods. 16-inch sewer lines are simply not adequate anymore and will be less so as we see weather events and run-off continue to increase in scale. We need to figure out how to retrofit to accomodate new development and redevelopment where current capacity is limited and older lines exist. It will have to be a cooperative effort if we want to mitigate the financial impact of making upgrades, and to mitigate the financial impact of NOT making upgrades. We need to work collegially with OWASA, neighborhoods, and developers to assess needs and determine cost-effective but forward-thinking solutions that endure through larger distasters. I also believe we need to develop a comprehensive intergovermental stormwater management plan to addess larger interconnected issues of stormwater management. I'm especially concerned about the effects of aging infrastructure on low-income neighborhoods and other vulnerable areas of our community.
Let’s talk planning. There’s a lot of flux downtown. Some of the projects stalled by the flagging economy are finally coming online and some others approved and planned years ago are a question mark. Is the town’s current downtown strategy — free parking, height limits, traffic flow and so on — a good one or should it be revisited?
The towns current downtown strategy needs to be updated. The flow of traffic downtown is a constantly growing problemFree parking is not "free", it is a town subsidy that we only lose money on. Now that Chapel Hill instituted parking, we need to form a cohesive parking strategy. Two to three hour limits are fine, we just need to hire a parking enforement officer to make sure people don't park in a space all day. The fines we receive will more than pay for any costs of the persons salary. The new parking garage should be set up to accept payments for those that park over 3 hours. Businesses can also do a lot more to notify their customers that they can arrive by other means besides a car. The flow of traffic downtown is getting progressively worse. As you sit on the Weaver street lawn, you usually see a line of cars sitting idle on East Weaver street. Addressing the free parking situation will reduce car traffic according to many studies. This will also help reduce CO2 emissions and make it a more pleasant experience for those that frequent our downtown.
I'm interested in a number of ways to strengthen our work and achieve our vision. First, master planning. I think we need to develop a small area plan for downtown that ensures downtown livability. This includes human scale design that protects buffers between downtown commercial and residential zones; pocket parks and other open spaces; and streetscapes and infrastructure that includes adequate parking while encouraging greater pedestrian, bike and transit modes.Second, I think we need a master parking plan that does enable free parking to continue by building partnerships between businesses and the town to organize parking options, create adequate signage, and set appropriate expectations of those who use their cars. I'd love to see car sharing and other alternatives embedded in our cooperative agreements and policies.Finally, I do think it's time for a gut-check to ensure our policies are supporting our downtown vision and strategy as well as they could be. We can and are engaging the business and residential community around issues like traffic, parking and affordable housing and commercial space downtown. We can do more and I will do my best to make sure we do.
As I mentioned in the first question there is a need for reconciling two goals that we have for our downtown. More density to maximize multimodal transportation and not overwhelming our infrastructure (roads and parking).As we increase our density there are presumptive requirements for the amount of parking. I think we need to consolidate our parking in a few areas of town to prevent a sea of parking with buildings interspersed. And there are many other measures that are described in the last parking study, we need to take a serious look at these. One measure described there is enforcement of parking time. This is something that we have been warming up to as many UNC park and ride lots are for fee and folks are catching wind of free parking in downtown and no time limit enforcement in Carrboro. Then there is the issue of our east-west and north-south bottleneck. As we implement parking studies measures the goal is for more people to use alternative modes of transportation.
Jacquelyn GistI hear from residents,visitors and business owners that free parking is one of the reasons our downtown is thriving-that is not to say that parking is not still a problem,the opening of the parking deck will ease that problem but not solve it.Charging for parking though should be our last resort-paid parking is blamed for some of the problems facing downtown CH.The new hight limits have happened,I still believe that 5 stories works in some parts of town-such as the hotel and Arts Center area but not others. We have a neighborhood protection overlay zone with set back and step back requirements that needs to be revisted because it it too convoluted.Decreasing hights next to residential areas while perhaps increasing them in others could be a new balance that works for us.Traffic flow is a problem during some hours.2 solutions have to do with persauding other entities to take action.In the mornings much of the traffic snarls come from folks driving less then 2-3 miles to get to UNC and fight over a place to park-not a system anyone would have designed,but one that we have.With the exception of people with young children,older parents at home ad those with health or mobilty issues I would like to see UNC not give on campus parking to those who live on bus lines.Instead those without permits could have access to free cars to use in emergnecies and be granted ffree one campus parking 2 days a month. Ihave proposed this for years-hope springs enternal! We also need to work with the schools to encourage more parent to have their children ride the bus to school,or walk or bike in order to lessen traffic jams.
Having spent a good deal of time at the legislature in the past few years, I can tell you there’s a real chance that next year there will be a movement to end almost all municipal Extraterritorial Jurisdictions (ETJ).That, coupled with the changes in recent years making annexation extremely difficult, is going to have a big effect on Carrboro. How would you respond to that move? And if it is successful, how should the town handle a transition to turn zoning and permitting in the current ETJ over to the county.
I didn't realize the plan is to ban extraterritorial jurisdictions, I thought it was that they were not going to allow for any new ones.If they do ban extraterritorial jurisdictions we can do like we currently are with the county on the transition areas. The county technically manages these, but it is done in consultation with the towns, the towns have significant say. I'll add that I hope this serves as foder for municipalities across teh state, both conservative and liberal, to stand up as a united front to the insanity of this current legislature.
Not just future, but the bill would end existing ETJs as well.
This is especially concerning in relation to current negotiations on getting sewer to the HIstoric Rogers rd. neighborhood to the extent that Chapel Hill's participation is contingent on them creating an ETJ for the neighborhood; by doing this Chapel Hill will be able to legally expend their portion of funds that they are responsibile for.
Jacquelyn GistThanks for keeping updated on all of the damage coming from the GA this summer Kirk,I heard of this from you.We are lucky that although not always perfectly aligned the county and the towns share many of the same values when it comes to landuse-we are not in the same position as say Ashville.I would hope that our staff and boards will be able to work together to keep many of our exisitng zoning regulations in place.Most important will be the continued protection of our watershed..a goal I am confident the majority of the commisoners share.This is not to say that te transition will happen without tension,the ETJ is central to how our ordinace funtions.The staff and boards need to start now working on a transition plan in order to be prepared and iron out differneces before hand in order to have the best thought out process
We are all interdependent--Towns, County, unincorporated areas. The best approach is not to see the loss of ETJs as a problem, but rather to show the greatest concern for the people that live in the affected areas. We need to make sure residents have a voice in any transition, and continuing the conversations and relationship-building we have started is really important. When I initiated and acted as liaison to the New Horizons Task Force, it really created a model for transition--whether through annexation or other kinds of transition. Community engagement is key. And clearly starting conversations with Orange County now will be very important in the event the state continues to challenge local government authority in this way. Our planning staffs need to talk. Our boards need to talk. We need to come together to prepare for any event that affects us mutually, and affects people that live and work in Orange County. Ultimately, I always want people outside the formal boundaries of Carrboro to feel connected to Carrboro and to participate in our cultural and civic life. That's what matters.
It will be in the best interest of the town and county to continue planning the ETJ zones together until that transition occurs. This way, we can manage and prevent further sprawl outside of town and the states action will not affect our long term plans.
(Please answer this series as quickly as you can.)Are the town employees getting a raise next year? If so, roughly what percent of an increase would you favor?
Jacquelyn GistHard to answer without seeing the rest of the budget and the impact of any state actions. I hope to be able to say yes,as a state empoyee I know what it's like to go without increases.I would like to be able to our employees at least a 4% raise and increase the % we pay of dependent health care
I am not a current Board member, but if I had a say, I would increase our employees salaries and ensure our future growth accomodates a standard of living raise that ties to the rate of inflation.
I hope so. A baseline COL would be 3%, but we need to review salaries in context with a real cost of living and comparable salaries in high-cost counties like Orange. I'd like to see revised salary ranges, not just a blanket % increase.
Jacquelyn Gist Good point Randee
The town employees got a raise this year after a few years of having a freeze. I am for town employees getting another raise this year as the economy is supposed to be improving. I would also be for them getting a larger raise then what the index would call for to make up, or start catching us up, to the level of pay that they would be at had there not been a freeze or for what was lost during the freeze.
Do you think Carrboro will raise property taxes next year?Do you think Orange County will raise property taxes next year?
Jacquelyn GistI don't think Carrboro willI do think the county will to cover increasing socail services costs and schools
Carrboro has done a really good job at not raising taxes and keeping up with services. I agree with Jacquie that we are likely not to increase our taxes this year given that trend. The county likely will.
I don't think Carrboro will raise property taxes as they are already too high. I do believe Orange County will increase property taxes this year. We need to keep focusing on developing sustainable mixed use properties that increase our commercial tax base and help out the county as a whole. This includes collaborating business recruitment efforts with Chapel Hill. Nothing will be accomplished if we dont work together to better our fiscal future.
I think Carrboro will try to hold property taxes harmless again, but Orange County needs to meet demands of aging school infrastructure. The jury's out, but I wouldn't be surprised if they raise them.
Have you driven down Smith Level Road lately?Any guess as to when it’ll be finished?(Just curious)
A little difficult to keep up if you comment in the wrong place
I would anticipate a month after the official completion date ( June 2014), as there are always hang ups with predicted completions.
Jacquelyn Gistyes,my step daughter lives off of Smith Level and I also attended a neighborhood event off Smith Level 2 weeks ago.I wish I knew for sure when it will be done,it is DOTs hands,hopefully by summer
Many years of negotiating with DOT, Town of Carrboro holding to not wanting more lanes, the DOT agreed to a compromise that still allowed them to expand the right of way, this in exchange for building the sidewalks and bike lanes that are badly needed there. To answer your questions, I drove through a couple of weeks ago and saw all the trees that they brought down and how much bigger the gash has gotten.Not sure what the expected ending of construction is, but we can check in with staff to get that update.
Well, the HOA recently invited me and Jacquie to a barbeque and we had an opportunity to listen to their concerns about the pace of the project. We told them we'd look into the timeline, but so far no answer from DOT. So I'm curious too, Kirk! Couldn't be finished fast enough for me.
...or the residents for that matter!
What’s the best way to resolve the longstanding need to make improvements to the Rogers-Eubanks Road community?
The best thing to do is to stay the course and continue to demonstrate leadership and accountability to the community. The Town committed 14%, or $900,000, of the cost of improvements, including the community center and infrastructure. Kudos to Michelle and Sammy for their leadership on the Task Force. They helped navigate and move the dialogue forward. We need to keep showing that leadership, and I will help make sure we do.
We need to continue pushing the county to honor the agreement made to connect water/sewer infrastructure in the neighborhood. Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange county took advantage of this community in 70s due to their lack of a political voice. They deserve a speedy remedy so they can continue building on their robust history.
I have been very fortunate to serve on the two latest iterations of the Historic Rogers Rd. Task force and it appears that in the 30 years of attempts at resolving this environmental justice issue we are the closest to providing improvements to the community in response to the fact that they have suffered the effects of the landfill in their backyards for so long.The town of Carrboro has agreed (and allocated in our budget this year half the money we are responsible for) to providing our portion of what has been identified to be the estimated cost for providing sewer and a community center to the community.It is concerning that in response to re-opened litigation by the EPA from, what I understand, the county having provided sewer to the Efland community but nor to the Historic Rogers Rd. comunity, the commissioners are taking a position that they cannot comment or negotiate on the plan we have been developing. The majority of commissioners seem to be interpreting their attorney to be saying that they cannot speak publicly on the matter and that this means they cannot negotiate further on the advances we have achieved so far. It is not clear to me that this is necessarily what their attorney has advised them on: They could continue the negotiations and once we have a plan, go to the EPA and offer the plan in exchange for them dropping the charges. As long as the county does not commit to anything binding, they should be able to continue the negotiations.
Jacquelyn GistI am hopeful that after too many years we are close to getting there.Back in the 90's I ,together with Mike N,worked to prevent the expainsion of the landfill and to create the first neighborhood remediation work group.With the hard work of many people there is now a commitment to build a community center,water lines have been extended and sidewalks on the Carrboro side.Michelle and Damonand Sammy have worked hard with the neighbors,CH and OC to help move this along.The issue of sewer extension and hook ups needs to be resolved,and will be. My fear and an issue we need to address is that with the landfill closed,a new school and park close by,sidewalks,a community center and water/sewer exisitng rental properties serving low income families will be replaced by more expensive units and exisiting home owners will face financial pressure to sell property for the develpment of higher cost housing.However ,the neighborhood is aware of these issues and will deal with them.it would be wrong to suggest that long term residents should not benefit economicaly from improvemnts.The towns and county will need to address the housing needs of any possibly displace renters
We continue to struggle with having enough affordable housing and growing our community in a way that maintains a diverse stock of housing. What are strategies you favor? Should the town itself initiate new projects?
To address the affordable housing crisis, we need to devote more town efforts to bring together stakeholder groups to increase our coop housing developments and other non traditional housing. I do not believe the town has the available resources to dedicate to initiating projects on its own at the present time. This is something we should consider to entice affordable development in the future. Examples include making it easier for seniors to purchase property together to avoid the high costs of senior centers. This way they can grow old with their friends and also support one another. I see a big opportunity to work with the current owners of our 30+ year old apartment complexes to rehabilitate and increase quality affordable housing. This can also include mixed uses to create multi use neighborhoods rather than row upon row of apartments. This will create much greater vibrancy than the current system.
We have a lot moving now on affordable housing. I am serving on the affordable housing task force curerently with Alderman MIchelle Johnson and Alderman Lavelle. We are looking at some of the recommendations coming out of recent sessions by the planning board, recommendations range from creating a rental registry to recognizing transportation and energy costs as burdens that if we could offset through proximity to downtown or energy efficiency, respectively, we can offset the costs of housing.Ultimately I believe we should seriously look into a bond referendum to create something akin to a revolving loan fund in the form of a revolving capital fund. The town could purchase and sell to local low income housing providers, such as Weaver Street Cohousing Association, deals that come on the market such as Collins Crossings (30-40 thousand dollars a unit after necessary retrofits). The association pays off the mortgage, with a low interest to the town and the fund is replenished. For comparison, we had a bond referendum for sidewalks and that is a benefit to the community that once the money is spent it never comes back, mortgages are different, the people living in the units pay the money back -- the fund gets replenished.
The BOA's Affordable Housing Task Force will soon present a series of recommendations to improve our policies and strategies to maintain a diverse housing stock. These will include addressing land use and development process issues, density parameters, dedicated revenue streams or trust fund, and support for non-profit housing developers and advocates, among other recommendations. I look forward to reviewing these recommendations. I am keenly aware of the risk of losing racial and social diversity in town without committing real resources to affordable housing. We need to continue to direct monies from our very small trust fund to support vulnerable homeowners as they seek to retain their home with health or safety improvements. I am also interested in exploring innovative or non-traditional housing models such as SROs, granny flats, and the small house movement. Though controversial, Carrboro is monitoring whether inclusionary zoning can work and can be applied as part of the solution for Carrboro. The Town should not initiate projects on its own, but partnerships with non-profit and other affordable housing developers are the best way to attract outside subsidy, capture innovation, and manage affordable housing long term.
Jacquelyn GistHousing affordablity remains one of the top concerns of our community.We are in a way the victim of our own success,s we become a more more attractive place to live and do business the cost of housing continues to rise. I was on the founding board of the Orange Community Housing Corp and serve as Carrboro's rep on it's decendent the Home Trust which have provided many families over the years with affordable homeowner ship opportunites.Carrboro's small house and moderate /low income insentives have resulted in an increase in affordable units.But this is not enough.There is a growing need for affordable rentals as the market for student housing of up to $700 a bedroom grows famileis and individuals are pushed out. Limiting the number of bathrooms in new units can help encouage more family rentals-few families want 4 bedrooms with 4 bath! I would also like the town to do more to encourage auxillary units.Many in our aging population would like to stay here but may not be able to maintain thier homes or need as much space.A low interst loan program could encouarge people to build auxillary units to either live in themselves while they rent thier exisitng home out or rent the auxially unit for additionla income while increasing the housing stock.developers should be encouraged to build auxillary units in new housing develoments as well . Affordablity needs to addressed on many fronts-there is no one answer.
Describe what you’d like to see happen on the northwest corner of Weaver and Greensboro streets?
I would first like to see a mixed use property that provides needed goods and services to residents so we do not have to waste time and money in durham county for our goods. The first step is convincing CVS to develop an urban focused property or sell it to a developer that will. This would include regular business hours, public space to gather, enhancing the streetscape, and making a small parking imprint. What I definitely do not want is an abandoned building on our busiest street. That is an embarassing eyesore and we should not stand for it.
There is a youth-adult partnership group that is trying to get a space for a youth-run community center/safe space/cafe, they plan to approach CVS to see if they would donate this space and get some good publicity for themselves in the process, I am supportive of their efforts, it could be combined with a park for the heart of our downtown.
Jacquelyn GistI would like to see low impact retail /office on the first floor and small appartments on the second with a garden in the back.I do not want to see large delivery trucks,bright lights,and 24 hr shopping there
We need a project that expands the commercial tax base and meets community needs without disturbing the previously-zoned buffer intended to provide a reasonable transition between higher volume commerce and the residences on Center Street. I'd like a project that has more upfront community input, as the prior owner of the property, WSM, sought with a community charrette. The project should help advance the Local Living Economy recommendations, being mindful that this corner is the "centroid" of the town of Carrboro. The corner should not be wasted with an overabundance of surface parking. Development should include some open space and/or other opportunities for the community to interface with that corner as a continuation of the village atmosphere already promoted on Weaver Street.
It’s been a honor. And thanks to OP for hosting these forums.Take another five minutes and tidy up any comments you want or add a thought or two here.Good luck.
Thank you, Kirk, for moderating, and thanks to Sammy, Kurt and Jacquie for sharing your thoughts as well. Enjoyed it!
Jacquelyn GistThank you Kirk and OP as well as Randee,Sammy Kurk.I look forward to reading everyone's remarks.
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