Carr Mill gives the finger to Weaver Street patrons

My peaceful mid-morning trip to the grocery store today was interrupted by the erection of two huge signs in the middle of the Weaver Street Market lawn. If these were at the entrance to Weaver Street from the sidewalk or the parking lot, it would just be sort of hostile, but the placement is clearly a big middle finger from Carr Mill Mall manager Nathan Millian to the many people who enjoy the Weaver Street lawn.

Last year the managers of Weaver Street Market and Carr Mill came to came to agreement on rules for use of the lawn through negotiations led by Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman. The rules posted here are SIMILAR to the ones agreed to, but not the same. In addition there was never an agreement to place a 6-foot tall sign in the middle of the area enjoyed my thousands of paying customers every week.

Thanks to Maria Rowan for letting me post this on the spot from her laptop.

Update: See the original negotiated rules and the rules on the new signs.



Lame. L-A-M-E, lame.

Within their rights, yes. Lame, yes.

Here is what the sign says: ( I just jotted this down by reading the sign in the photograph)

Carr Mill Mall
Good Neighbor Rules

1. Carr Mill Mall buildings, lawn, and parking lots are only for the use of customers while shopping and dining, and for tenants and their invited guests.

2. Solicitation and distribution of literature or handbills is prohibited.

3. Loitering or sleeping on benches is prohibited.

4. Unauthorized performances and large or publicly advertised gatherings are prohibited.

5. Dogs must be well behaved, leashed, attended, promptly cleaned up after, and watered with disposable bowls.

6. Stay out of all trees, garden areas, and the podn. The edge of the pond can be used for seating, but not for walking or running. Do not throw anything in the pond.

7. Alcoholic beverages can be consumed only in eating areas, and not near the entrance to the offices or the edge of the lawn.

Thank you.

BTW, isn't that sign right between where many patrons sit (at the picnic tables, on the rock, etc) and where the bands set up?

So far I don't mind the fact there is a sign. But the placement looks like an amazingly bad decision.

The sign is indeed right against the grass line. So if you're sitting at the tables you look up and see the sign. And the one at the entrance is right where the bands set up.

If the sign is the answer, what's the question?

Ugliness added without a reason.

I took some better pictures with a real camera and now I am home (watching the game, natch) I have got them online at

The mall owner was very clear that he wants Carr Mill to be welcoming to the community. These signs are not. Hopefully they will be replaced with something more appropriate very soon.

Wanna start a pool on how long it will take for the signs to be defaced? Carrboro is polite but creative. It'll be interesting to see what the responses are...

It's like someone at Carr Mill woke up this morning, and said to himself: "Hmm-what can I do today to anger the core constituency that supports the bottom line of my business?"


Maybe WSM should put up some signs too:

Dear Friend of Weaver Street:

We are conducting an experiment in civic action and community building. We request that you refrain from shopping in any Carr Mill shops until the mall management removes the obnoxious signs they recently installed. Thanks!

I guess I now shop at Weaver Street Southern Village where there is actual public space...

I have been asked to post the text of the actual agreement that was reached last year. I got this from ALderman Dan Coleman who led the negotiations. Compare with the text of the sign that Brian transcribed above. Here it is in full:

CONTACT Nathan Milian, Carr Mill Mall Manager 942-8669 Dan Coleman, Carrboro Board of Aldermen 960-6720 Mark Chilton, Mayor of Carrboro 932-1990 Ruffin Slater, Weaver Street Market General Manger 913-1592

Carr Mill Mall Resolves Lawn Issue

Carrboro NC (October 9, 2006) Carr Mill Mall announced a new policy for the use of the lawn in front of Weaver Street Market. Carr Mill Mall manager Nathan Milian said the policy would allow individuals to use the lawn for informal artistic expression. “We recognize the community's desire for places of artistic expression,” said Milian, “and we are pleased that Carr Mill can provide such a place.”

Town Officials worked with Milian to resolve the issue. Alderman Dan Coleman and Mayor Mark Chilton met twice with Paul Greenberg, Carr Mill's general partner, and arranged a meeting between Greenberg and Bruce Thomas. “We are pleased that we were able to help resolve the issue,” said Coleman. “We are glad Carr Mill has confirmed its desire to make the lawn available for community use. We also recognize that Carr Mill has a legitimate need to have a policy for the use of the lawn, and are glad to see that policy formulated so that the community can use the lawn responsibly.”

The “Carr Mill Mall Open Space Policy” (see attachment) establishes 11 rules for use of the lawn. The policy is designed to protect the safety and enjoyment of Carr Mill tenants, customers, and guests. It includes rules that prohibit panhandling, solicitation, and threatening behavior, require dogs to be under control, and limit smoking and alcohol consumption to designated areas. Although individual artistic expression is allowed, there is a provision that requires any performance to obtain the advance approval of Carr Mill Mall. A performance is defined as “any activity intending to attract or having the effect of attracting a crowd of spectators, or that's volume disturbs others.” Alderman Coleman and Weaver Street Market's manager Ruffin Slater worked with Milian to develop the Open Space Policy.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton applauded Carr Mill's use of the lawn for events. “The lawn is the center of our downtown,” said Chilton, “and the Open Space Policy indicates Carr Mill's commitment to use the lawn for the good of the community.”

As part of the Open Space Policy, Weaver Street Market will coordinate a monthly event for non-profit-making organizations with values consistent with Weaver Street Market's mission to communicate with the general public.

Mayor Chilton, Alderman Coleman, and Weaver Street's Slater have agreed to meet with Carr Mill next spring to review the Open Space Policy.

# # #

Carr Mill Mall Open Space Policy

1. Carr Mill Mall buildings, lawn, and parking lots are for the use of customers while shopping and dining, for tenants and their invited guests, and for those attending public events. Event attendees must use satellite parking.

2. Solicitation and distribution of literature or handbills is prohibited except as specifically authorized as part of a Weaver Street Market event.*

3. Loitering is prohibited.

4. Persons panhandling, exhibiting drunken behavior or substance abuse, sleeping on benches, disturbing the peace, or acting in a way that is threatening to persons or property will be evicted and subject to trespass.

5. Unauthorized performances and unauthorized large or publicly advertised gatherings are prohibited. "Performance" means any activity intending to attract or having the effect of attracting a crowd of spectators, or that's volume disturbs others. Performances need to have the advance written permission of Carr Mill Mall.

6. Dogs must be well behaved (no barking at or sniffing around customers), leashed, attended at all times, not relieve themselves on the property (accidents should be promptly cleaned up after), and watered with disposable bowls.

7. Stay out of all trees, garden areas, and the pond. The edge of the pond can be used for seating, but not for walking or running. Do not throw anything in the pond.

8. Alcoholic beverages can be consumed only in eating areas, and not near the entrance to the offices or the edge of the lawn.

9. Table and chairs should remain in the designated dining areas.

10. No smoking is permitted anywhere on the premises except in specifically authorized smoking areas at the edge of the lawn.

11. Sidewalks must be kept clear for passage at all times.
Thank you!

*WSM will sponsor a monthly event for non-profit-making organizations with values consistent with its mission to have tables and make their literature available according to guidelines set forth for this purpose.

2. Solicitation and distribution of literature or handbills is prohibited.

This "rule" as written on the sign could prevent political literature from being distributed... a serious blow to free political speech IMHO. That is not a community value of Carrboro!

The sign placement at the performance end is most infuriating. It creates an ugly barrier between patrons and performers, and could interfere with band set-up. Sound bounces off little walls like that. So do little dancers.

At this point, I can't see any solution to this that involves Nathan Millian continuing to operate Carr Mill Mall. not only are his values entirely inconsistent with those of this customers, he enforces them with a vigor which is threatening the reputations of his tenants.

He should stick with managing generic strip malls, a task at which I am sure he is entirely adequate. My question now is which would be more effective: a massive letter writing campaign to the out-of-state owner of Carr Mill or a single letter signed onto by a few prominent civic and political leaders?

The most offensive part for me are the signs themselves. The design and the writing. It's sort of like the ultimate in bad environmental design.

Why not have a set of information graphics that contribute to the sense of space and still make their points?

As I recall, there are some pretty strict ordinances regarding signage (size in particular). Perhaps you could get the sign taken down on a technicality.

Not "sort of" but the worst in environmental design. The text is offensive, the sign placement is in-your-face.

A letter-writing campaign will go nowhere. The property owner already knows that Carrboro doesn't like Nathan, and seems not to care.

As they say in bidness, money talks.

It would hurt the mall stores, but a hard-hitting demonstration project - like a well-publicized four-hour boycott - would definitely get their attention.

If that didn't work, try a whole day?

These signs are already not worth whatever they cost - and they're getting more expensive with every passing hour.

The problem with a boycott is that it only hurts the tenants, and they are our fellow victims of this petty tyrant. They have no influence over him. I think the target has to be Nathan or his boss, the property owner.

What is the address of the property owner? I wish Carrboro would just take the lawn over through eminent domain and settle this issue or WSM could purchase the property.

I know you're right - we'll think of something better. As someone said above, it probably won't be long before the signs morph into public art anyway.

Maybe they can be used as kiosks for flyers - a true community service!

Why not get Harris Teeter and CVS involved? They would have much more clout than the small store owners within the Mall. I am pretty sure that the HT/CVS part of the parking lot is owned by the same property owners.

Mark Schultz of the Chapel Hill News picked up on this for tomorrow's paper:

Good for him.

i would like them to put 2 altomatic door openers on the doors that would help parents and people with mobility problems

Yes, good for Mark. Glad to see the story and glad to see the acknowledgment of OP.

Geez! What an outrage. Everyone should boycott the whole place. They have no right to put a sign up on their property!

Luckily, I frequent Weaver Street South, not the same as the original, but a great, friendly store. And, they're expanding!

Wise business decisions are not always about the business owners asserting their rights.

For years, decades actually, Carr Mill has encouraged the use of its lawn as a quasi-public space. The owner told me directly last summer that he wished Carr Mill to continue to be a community center and gathering place. If he is truly committed to that idea, then he and his manager will recognize that placing an overbearing declaration of prohibitions central to the outdoor dining area is antithetical to that goal. Obviously, as the property owner, he can do what he likes. But, as a businessman, he will probably understand that if he clamps down on the use of the lawn, many of the hundreds now drawn to it may depart to other venues.

The irony here is that Carr Mill has created an atmosphere that people care about. Most businesses, if they impose restrictions that customers don't like, will simply see those customers go away and may never realize why. Carr Mill has the advantage of a customer base that cares about the community space that has been created and wants to see it sustained.

It would be a simple matter to post smaller signs in more discrete locations, signs that led with a welcome and only then listed the rules.


Don't worry. The barbarians are not taking over. Sacred property rights are not being challenged.

However, stupidity and ugliness are being challenged. That is our right, however irksome to those who just want their possession of property to extend to them more power than they have earned.

So, Mark, as obnoxious as it may be to you, are you saying the owner does not have the right to put up a sign?


Mr. Woodbury did propose a good idea earlier here though (not the eminent domain one) -- why not just offer to buy the strip of lawn? I mean, considering the owner doesn't seem to want to do much with it, I'm sure they'd part with it for a reasonable price.

JMK, of course the owner has the right to put up signs. No one is disputing that. In fact, the owner can do as many stupid things as he wants with his property, as long as they are within the law.

And, of course, I have the right to say that I don't like his signs one bit. I also have the right to tell the owner that I will do my shopping elsewhere unless the signs are removed, which I have just done.

See how easy that is?

Why doesn't everyone who loves it so much take up a collection and buy it as Mr. Cameron suggests? That is the perfect solution.


You wrote: "Carr Mill has the advantage of a customer base that cares about the community space that has been created and wants to see it sustained."

Back in the fall when the connection between panhandling, homelessness, and dancing was made, I started asking business owners, the maintenance staff, and the security staff how they felt about the 'community space' issue and what I heard was a very different story than I hear on OP.

Has there been any attempt to get a majority of the business owners, renters, and mall staff together to hear their feelings about 'community space'?

Not that I know of.

Of course not!

Of course not!

This is a really interesting thread, though I feel like a Chapel Hill interloper. Before I butt out, I'll offer this quick report:

Most days come with lots of choices. Whether to go here or there, whether to clean this or that, what to cook, what to eat, where to find that birthday present or book.

For people with deep connections to places - like many Carrboro folks have with Weaver Street Market and Carr Mill - it would probably take wild horses to drag you away from your weekly rituals. For someone like me, though, a regular-but-not-passionate customer of the mall, it doesn't take much to tilt away from going there in favor of going somewhere else.

Not wanting to cringe at these signs in person, that happened to me today.


Since Chapel Hill has two public spaces coming online over the next few years, the resolution of this dilemma may serve as a model as they plan for how to manage the public space at Greenbridge (which will be in private hands--probably so that they can sell alcohol) and the public space on Lot 5 (not sure whether it will have town or private oversight). Only those properties will have the additional stakeholder group of on-site residents.

As one renter/business co-owner, I consider the community space to be one of the biggest benefits of our location. We love the activity and the people and the fun and the food. We'd prefer no one smoked near our front door, but that's our only complaint and that situation has somewhat improved recently.

I do of course hope we come up with a better approach than a boycott.

I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade but I am asking something from the people expressing their outrage about the situation on the lawn in front of Weaver Street Market in the center of Carrboro.

I would like to see an equal amount of outrage expressed against the continued abuse of the working class African American Rogers Community by the governments of this county. Your garbage and my garbage have ended up in the back yards of this community for the past 34 years. With a long history of broken promises and double talk, it is a very real probability that this community will have to host a new waste transfer station added to their back yards. Even Greensboro, in the name of environmental justice, refused to consider that their transfer station be sited at the Greensboro dump that was also located near an African American working class community.

Please let your public officials know including the Carrboro BOA, (Only Aldermans Gist and Broun have already expressed their opposition.) the Chapel Hill Town Board, and the Orange County BOC that acts of environmental racism and abuse should not be committed in your name.

Unlike the lawn in front Weaver Street Market, the Rogers Road neighborhood may be out of sight, but don't leave them out of mind or heart.

David, I have been expressing outrage about the treatment of the Rogers Road community for over 10 years - way longer than many of the new (white) residents of that area who have recently taken an interest in their less fortunate neighbors.

Please feel free to share your concerns on this thread about that issue and look forward to another post here in anticipation of tomorrow's county commissioners' meeting.

At the next appearance commission meeting I will ask the town staff if this sign was approved by the town (as required by the sign ordinance), and if this signage is within the sign budget for the property. If the sign was posted without a review by town staff as required by the sign ordinance, the town will request the sign be removed or subjected to review as usual. We have the sign ordinance just for occasions like this, although usually offending signs are temporary banners or real estate sales signs.

Right on, Chuck! Let us know what you find out.

When I walked outside the other day, I thought to myself "Cool! they finally put up a sign letting people know there are cool things inside the building." Boy was I wrong.
I figured it was only a matter of time until the reaction came.. and sure enough it did.

Having seen the Chapel Hill Herald Newspaper today, it prompted me to do a websearch to read more about it and it brought me here. After reading this, I thought maybe I should do the unthinkable and post something - I hope I don't regret it.

Overall it's an interesting discussion. I mean, there's this one aspect that people need to respect the property and rights of the mall, and then there is the fact that people feel it's an affront and a slap in the face - because "duh" of course all those things on there are common sense and the mgmt is just being oppressive.

It's a very interesting discussion, and knowing how the mall managment is, they probably saw this move as a 'hedge' on enforcing their rights as property owners. This building very easily could have been bulldozed years ago with condos and a parking garage or something put up. I'm glad they didn't do that.

I want to also say that my personal opinion about signs is that they are annoying and get them out of my face. I also don't entirely aggree with all the stuff that's on there - and I don't have to like it, but I do have to respect it. That being said.. there are people around here that are so self absorbed and not even paying attention that unless you hit them in the face with a bag of clues they will touch wet paint, walk into doors, leave children unattended in the fountain (even with the sign saying to please don't).

I saw mention of using smaller signs, that aren't as intrusive. I can tell you that non-direct signs that are small DO NOT WORK. There are currently small signs placed throughout the inside of the mall about running, soliciting, etc - but no one ever bothers to read them. I frequently have people asking us for money, to buy their crap, and foot races in the hall towards unsuspecting old ladies carrying their sewing machines.

They clearly want people to get a message - so they went the other way and boldly placed the signs; probably so everyone would notice them and to send a message.. "treat our property with respect." I'm not saying I agree with the manner in which it's done - but it's clearly gotten some attention for sure!

Personally I think the signs could be thrown out if people in general treated everyone else and the grounds with the same respect you'd extend to visiting a new friends house. Maybe they should move them, but where would they be as affective? We could change the security officer for a courtesy officer then. But this isn't a Dr. Seuss book, it's the real world and in it are people that aren't always "nice".

So how did this happen? Where does it come from? For a long time, the mall management has been fast and loose with rules - giving people the flexibility to skirt around certain things. But, with a few incidents and changes in population - I think they now feel that they have to dictate what those rules are and remind people who owns the property. Trust me, there are rules I really don't like - but I'd rather work with the property management than affront them, using that as a last resort. Trying to embarrass them about it doesn't help and makes them dig in. Nathan believe it or not is actually pretty easy to talk to, and whenever I've had a problem I've pretty much went and talked to him about it. He may not agree, but he does listen and repsonds best when you give him solutions versus problems.

My main concern is two-fold...

1) It would be very easy for Carr Mill to say, "No drinking on the Lawn - period", "No Live performances", "No large gatherings". They could severly enforce parking (which might not be a bad idea). They could even 'censor' the types of materials distributed, promoted, and displayed. If they wanted they could blacktop the whole thing, not that I think they would ever consider that. It's a slippery slope. If you go to battle over the content of the signs or their placement - you errode your stance on the next issue. Instead, suggest where they could move them instead of saying "MOVE THEM!" I doubt the content is debatable at this point though. But Maybe if the community pushes about a sign, they push back harder. Maybe they rule outsome of those things listed above - namely the drinking at all. I don't know about you, but I enjoy having a beer while 'sitting' on the fountain wall. I also don't want these rules impacting our business. If they rule those things out next, it would really suck for us since we have fairly big openings on the 2nd Friday of each month for the artwalk - with beer, and music, and lots of people gathering informally. Even with the signs - it's still a pretty open environment downtown generally speaking.

And .. don't think that Carr Mill Management doesn't own other properties downtown that you might care about. Maybe that space next to Open Eye would be developed differently based on how things occur at Carr Mill - (the big ugly yellow steel building). I think the big problem is that there is no dialog with the community and mall management - instead of boycotting shops in Carr Mill (all we do is pay rent and try to survive - if we die, it doesn't hurt the mall) and instead of writing an indignant letter campaign as a first step - write them a proposal stating how to change things or make them more manageable. Give them solutions, choices. Then if that doesn't work go another route.

2) If Weaver St. Lawn is boycotted, or people decide not to come down town - then the entire downtown economy is hurt (not that it isn't already). The landscape of the downtown, socially will change. My biggest fear is that people won't come downtown, it gets redeveloped into something else, and we have to move to southpoint or somewhere else that's less organically developed and a big structured pile of crap. It's not like there are alot of choices for downtown businesses currently in carrboro - trust me I've looked. The reality is that people need to find a way to work and communicate with the management. Maybe propose a cooperative 'ethics' committee to them that's staffed with volunteer activists that engage and communicate with the community. Instead of demanding rights, offer a solution. I just want to see Carrboro flourish and be even more of a cool awesome place. But if you run off to Southern Village or somewhere else, you lose your opportunity to affect downtown carrboro.

Speaking of Awesome places ... i won't be able to respond to this because I'm going to SxSW in a few hours (that's austin, tx). If you don't know where to find us - we are 'in' Carr Mill.

It will be interesting to see what works out when I get back next week. :-)

-mike @ wootini

The two sets of rules look very similar to me. What am I missing?

Most significantly: 7 rules vs 11, numerous omissions or wording changes. Of particular importance to many is the definition of "performance" in the agreed upon rules. It was important to clarify that someone on the lawn doing tai chi or enjoying a hula hoop is not "performing."

Apparently, an early draft was mistakenly sent to the sign maker and the list of rules is about to be corrected with a welcome added at the top. The issues of size and location are still under discussion.

The signs are gone.



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