Our role in the "global economy"

I was inspired to start a thread about economic issues by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen's meeting last night. Dr. James Johnson gave a presentation looking at what a "sustainable community" is and how that factors into and helps create a sustainable economy in a given city. Chapel Hill and Carrboro have many of the qualities of a sustainable community: respect for diversity (ok, that can be argued, but let's not focus on that), good schools, high quality of life. And yet, outside of the university, most folks commute to RTP and Durham and Raleigh for work. As an environmentalist who is concenred with sprawl and pollution, this concerns me.

Is there a chance our future holds more jobs locally? What are Chapel Hill and Carrboro doing right to create more opportunities for citizens to work in town? What are they doing wrong? Is there a focus on a particular type of business that the towns are trying to attract?



I have continued and will continue to support all policies that connect people, nurture community, and remove barriers for dialogue. As for HOAs, I have not endorsed HOAS. In fact, I have noted several times, that those neighborhoods without HOAs are the neighborhoods most endanger of having to deal with change in character. I have also noted that the HOA created neighborhoods sometimes have and do foster exclusivity. So where is my public endorsement of HOAs styled development?

I will cease commenting on this thread for a while because the real issue in southern orange county is whether we will maintain and create development for the middle income individual and family. Government provides for the middle and the high income takes care of itself. What about the middle?

Joal, I apologize, and I stand guilty of my own charge to you. I'm not sure what all you mean in your second paragraph above/below, but it's not an endorsement of HOAs, I agree. Very sorry.


Joal points out that "the real issue in southern orange county is whether we will maintain and create development for the middle income individual and family. Government provides for the (did you mean LOW) and the high income takes care of itself. What about the middle? "

Clearly, the overwhelming reason that middle class families have been willing to pay a premium to live here, thus driving up home prices for other middle class families, is because these families have in the past believed that this area offers a school system superior to that of any other in the region.

If anything should happen to damage the image of the school system and the realities of what the schools are willing to deliver to children who want to learn, home prices will descend again to reasonable levels. Very rapidly.

Interesting idea, Mark. I bet there would be a lot of overlap with the list of businesses that accept the PLENTY as currency since those are folks who can reinvest that money locally.


(Anyone want to start a thread about the PLENTY? Send me a suggestion with the "contact us" form.)

Funny anecdote - when I was on the Orange County Economic Development Commission, the "Buy Orange" campaign was launched in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of spending our money in the county in order to maximize the local sales tax revenue. This is several steps short of focusing on true local economic self-reliance becuase it made no distinction between generating local sales tax at Food Lion or Weaver Street Market. This lack of clear focus was exemplified by the banners that were made to promote "Buy Orange" - they were red and white with a big Coca Cola logo on them (Coke paid for all or most of the banner production).


Why do we need to "increase the sense, and the reality, of boundaries between neighboring communities?" in a small town? What is the rationale for this sense of boundaries? joal broun


This is the second time on this thread that you have half-read a post of mine and given a response that implies I said something I did not.

You endorsed HOAs. I pointed out that they (at least recent ones) (1) tend to increase the cost of living through HOA dues that are nearly impossible to remove because of supermajorities required for re-writing covenants, and (2) create boundaries between neighborhoods by introducing an extra layer of government and effective taxation, all legally binding. I was criticizing you for endorsing policies that increase these boundaries; I oppose these boundaries.

Jeff, No, I was asking a clarifying question.

On the issue of parking in downtown Carrboro: Instead of working on the assumption that we need more parking, I would suggest that we work from design criteria such as 'we need relatively easy, quick access to downtown Carrboro businesses.' Other communities with heavily trafficked/built up spaces, provide alternative transportation means, such as community bicycles, trolleys/vans, and covered walkways to making walking in bad weather less miserable. I hope the Carrboro council will consider such alternatives before supporting the construction of additional parking lots/decks. If we must have lots/decks, I suggest that we make them free as long the individual spends $xx.00 at a downtown business.

It would be very interesting to have a survey done that would list all the businesses in Orange County and some sort of rating system that would indicate how locally rooted they are. In the end, I think local roots are our strength. Maple View Farms, Weaver St. Market, Open Eye Cafe, Fitch, the many locally owned restaurants, Internationalist Books, Branch's Bookstore, the Farmer's Market vendors, the many local construction companies, architects, designers, and landscapers, local artists, and on and on.

There are so many ways in which businesses like these make our community stronger, smarter, more resilient, and more fun. Such a survey might help us see the "geography" of our local economy and help us better understand how to propagate more strong local enterprises. Maybe then we can someday take back the areas of the market that have been colonized by corporations whose only true allegiance is to maximize profits.


The Town continues to refine and enhance its downtown by allocating resources for a traffic circulation study. We believe that this study will give us the tools to assist with the traffic, and the circulation issues that arise with a popular downtown.

We do want downtown to be popular. We want it to be a destination stop for your dining, shopping, and eating pleasure. We do want to preserve the historical character of downtown. There are a plethora of towns and cities our size that wish and long for a viable downtown.

As for snow shopping-it is always going to be hectic no matter what. I argue it would have been the same crowded shopping experience if you had been at University Mall Harris-Teeter or Whole Foods in Chapel Hill.

That's right -- downtown Carrboro has survived the recession better than most. I'm speaking mostly about the future. We all agree the parking situation is very strained. So my prediction (and others differ) is that there is not much room right downtown for more businesses or residences that depend on cars (and almost all residences depend on cars). Non-downtown people are going to have one experience of finding no parking anywhere for Armadillo or Acme or Panzanella or what have you, and they won't come back.

This is feeling repetitive, so I'm going to take a break.

Carr Mill's parking lot is a pain. No two ways about it--I don't care WHAT time of day you are there. (it IS better at night...) One of the MANY reasons I gave up shopping at WSM.

the other WSM has plenty of parking

At the huge risk of sounding ignorant...What exactly is the historical "character" of downtown Carrboro? I've lived here for over 10 years and I still don't get this...

P.S. I have never ever ever had a parking problem at Carr Mill Mall at any time of day. I always find unused parking behind Harris Teeter.

Trish, Historical character often means old buildings & green spaces, not dominated by new buildings, or especially by new buildings out of character with the old. The building that houses WSM, for example, is a compromise -- it is somewhat in the style of Carr Mill itself, but shorn of frills. And it replaced a much larger lawn & very old trees.... But if you've lived here ten years and you're asking this question, then I'm answering it for other readers, because it's like what Dizzy Gillespie said about jazz, (I paraphrase) You either get it or you don't. If you don't, or if Carrboro's little bit doesn't matter to you, I respect that.

I have more than once driven all the way around Carr Mill & Harris Teeter and found nothing. I am rarely game for playing the circle-like-a-buzzard game. Now, approaching from Roberson, if I see many cars behind Harris Teeter (which I often do), I duck into the corner municipal lot, or I make alternative plans.

Jeff, thank you for that explanation. However, Carrboro's "little bit" does matter to me, which is why I asked this forum, because that is where my business is, it's where I've just recently moved my retired parents to, it's where it shop, it's where I walk/run and shop at the Farmer's Market. I just never have taken the time to study up on Carrboro's historical and character background because I am so darn busy working and raising raising a family. <--no excuse by any means...

speaking of moving retired parents to carrboro, has anyone researched the tax implications of dying in north carolina as opposed to other states?

Jeff, winter storms are even less common than rush hour. I don't think that's a very good example to make your point.

And while I'm here, let me say that even _I_ drive to the store sometimes (that's sarcasm). I'm not saying we should strangle local businesses by not providing parking for their customers. But supporting alternatives to single-occupant autos means a neccesary shift in priorities. (You can't just drop a bench and a sidewalk next to a freeway and expect people to walk to it.) If businesses want old fashioned parking ratios then they should think about locating in old fashioned strip malls.

Ruby, my post said, "This is typical for weekends (and many other times)." I explicitly addressed the storm question -- that was my purpose for going to the store, not my experience at the store, whose lines and parking lot were surprisingly fairly normal.

Carr Mill's parking lot is a pain. No two ways about it--I don't care WHAT time of day you are there. (it IS better at night...) One of the MANY reasons I gave up shopping at WSM.


Melanie has said that Carr Mill Mall has no vacancies and new tenants move in when old ones move out. I find Jeff's parking story to be representative of a lot of my car-based trips to Carr Mill. But are congested parking and low vacancy rates bad omens for downtown, particularly during a sluggish economy? I'd say they are positive signs.

In RTP, strip malls near my office are half-empty and most restaurants without a drive-thru open after 10 and close by 3 P.M. These are strip malls with abundant parking in between Nortel and IBM, two of the biggest employers in the park.

From these observations, I conclude that people are responding rationally to the parking situation in Carrboro. In Carrboro, downtown is an atttraction in itself and is accessible to many by foot, bike, and transit. Even if parking congestion occurs, many customers continue to successfully access stores in the downtown area. Restaurants are open late most weeknights, even with people hunting for parking now and then, a stark contrast to easy-park RTP.

If downtown Carrboro was truly threatened by easy-park destinations like Carrboro Plaza, people would stop shopping downtown and no new shoppers would replace them. There is certainly no shortage of such places for those who prefer an easy-park destination to shop in CH/C. As a secondary effect, we would see sustained vacancies in Carr Mill Mall and other downtown retail spots. However, this exodus of customers/businesses to greener parking pastures does not seem to be happening if the congestion is constant.

Dan Burton identified some opportunities to improve parking to downtown businesses by pooling some parking behind Armadillo, the barber shop, etc., and these should be pursued to help sustain downtown's healthy business posture and to make parking less frustrating. We certainly do not want to weaken the customer base that arrives in downtown by auto. Of equal importance is improving the connectivity of the downtown sidewalk network to outlying neighborhoods and greenways.

However, it is important that we realize what it is about downtown Carrboro that makes it an attractive business location- and that is that downtown is largely the antithesis of the generic suburban strip development which dominates the region.


Of course, if your business depends on lunch traffic, either there have to be enough people within walking distance (more dense development downtown will help that) or you need ample parking for that time of day. Otherwise, your business will not succeed.

It's like that arroyo floods for two hours, every day.

Seems like this is CH/Carrrboro's comment on SNOW and ICE removal, as well.

Hoping the forcasters are wrong AGAIN....


This is a true story.

It's a Sunday afternoon, Feb. 15, 2004. Grocery shopping pre-storm, with a toddler who rarely agrees to walk straight more than a couple dozen yards, and then must be carried. We want food we can't get at Food Lion, and I don't want to drive to University Mall. Mother is working, and father must do this with kiddo in tow.

I approach the Weaver Street - Bertram-Townsend lot, and see cars circling. It's around 3 P.M., and I decide instead of circling around, I'll park in the municipal lot across from the Armadillo Grill.

Some 20+ minutes later, we exit Harris Teeter with two bulging (and heavy) Weaver Street bags. (I didn't take advantage of any sales, because of the walk. All necessities -- I'll have to pay more for those other goods next time.) It's sleeting, hard. The Harris Teeter lot is full as far as Greensboro St., as I had guessed. This is typical for weekends (and many other times).

Thank you to all the cars along my walk that paused so that we could toddle back to the car, across the street, with me desperately clutching my son's wet hand. I couldn't have done that shopping trip with two kids, without joining Carrboro's NASCAR-style circle-to-park derby. I shouldn't have done the trip with one kid.

My point is, we're not just talking about rush hour. (And even if we were, so what? That's when many people have to conduct their business. Carrboro does *not* want to reach a point of losing rush-hour shoppers, nor should it behave as if downtown were just for one subset of our town.)

This is a true story.

I was driving in Baja California one time when a furious rain storm passed over us. This is unusual in the desert, of course. Ten minutes later we came to a place where the road crossed an arroyo (a dry creek bed). There are lots of these spots on the Baja highway. The road dips down and crosses right through the dry creek bed.

But it wasn't dry, it was gushing with the storm run off. There were two cars already on our side waiting for the water to recede so that we could all cross. Standing by one of the cars was a tourist losing his temper and cursing the Mexican government for not building a bridge. Ten minutes later, we all drove through. The river didn't flow over the road again for six months.

The tourist thought it was outrageous that they didn't have a bridge over the river that flows for 20 minutes a year. He failed to understand a fundamental governmental issue: Meeting the peak demand is expensive.

I don't mean to be flippant, but parking is harder everywhere at lunchtime. And driving is harder at rush hour. That is the way it works. There's room for improvement, but you should probably never expect to be able to find plenty of parking at noon in downtown Carrboro.

Communities should enact laws that make it illegal to ban outdoor clotheslines. People are getting asthma from power plant emissions, nuclear waste is building up, and people are sepending too much money on electricity. Dryers use a lot of power. Plus clothes dried on a line smell great.


I can't speak towhether older neighborhoods in CARRBORO have HOA's--but I can tell you that MY older neighborhood in CH does.

It's restrictive covenants are few--nothing about clotheslines (another reason I couldn't find a larger house in one of the newer subdivisions in Carrboro! I need to be allowed a clothesline) or the types of plantings one may or may not have--but it does prevent us from subdividing our lots unless BOTH lots will be at LEAST .60 of an acre. Not that THAT really matters anymore--with the new zoning laws most of this neighborhood couldn't have been built--the grade is too steep and we have a permanent creek running through the backyard. I'm not certain how an HOA makes my neighborhood more expensive? I think the MARKET for homes is what is making houses in Carrboro/Chapel Hill more expensive. Oh--and we can't have goats, or chickens. Or more than two horses...if I'm remembering correctly!



The emphasis on covenanted communities increases the cost of living, in both homeowners dues and time spent self-governing. We don't all have the option of working more hours to offset the hours saved in landscaping or other covenanted chores. These Homeowners Associations (HOAs) also increase the sense, and the reality, of boundaries between neighboring communities.

In addition, sometimes covenanted communities are forced to provide their own services of what should be town services. For example, your neighborhood, Spring Valley, didn't get Town paving until 1995 (which predates your service on the Board). My neighborhood, Weatherhill Pointe, still has to provide its own paving (and street lighting, and run-off clearance from a Town-serviced neighborhood next door). Last December we paid about $13,500, spread over 56 homes, to repave just about 25% of our neighborhood. We pay the same tax rates. We also each pay home flood insurance, in a Catch-22 situation which in the past has been used to explain why the Town can't possibly provide paving to our flat neighborhood.

(A Board long ago created this situation, so that the developer could squeeze more houses in with a narrow street. To be fair, you voted against Pacifica, which creates a similar situation of increased cost of living through privatized services. My neighborhood is currently trying to figure out how to get an arrangement like yours in Spring Valley, as well as some neighborhoods in Chapel Hill in similar situations. Any suggestions?)

I'm not sure how older neighborhoods like Laurel Avenue or Plantation Acres or Barington Hills (all of which I presume have no HOAs, though I might be wrong) are being gentrified, say, compared to north of downtown. And I'm not sure how newer communities like Lake Hogan Farms, with a HOA, are supposed to be less exclusive? I don't see a correlation between HOAs and exclusivity, unless it's just the reverse of what you posit; other factors seem more important.

Ruby, I'm very glad that our town government is looking out for pedestrians. Really. But I'd also like it to look out for everyone who lives farther out, especially, as I mentioned before, with kids and two jobs. (In the past couple of months, I have once had to visit four parking lots before finding a space, and another time just to give up, both around lunch time.) I like to stay out of traffic as much as possible, too, and one way to enable that is to encourage access to and services by shopping centers in multiple locations. Once I get there, I love to walk around, for example during an oil change, or just for multiple errands. Or just to have a place for my son to explore. The same holds true for my less frequent and briefer trips to Willow Creek, which just offers much less.

It's not all about downtown. You'll see this in European towns of comparable size to Chapel Hill - Carrboro (e.g., Leiden, Fribourg, Florence). (Those places are also sensitive to protecting the historic character of old town centers.)

Why would it take bravery to walk to Umall? There are lights and crosswalks at all the intersections. It took a lot MORE bravery to go walking in Carrboro when I lived there. Particularly before they finished the sidewalk on West Main. AND--since they only put the side walk on one side (once they FINALLY built one) My kids had to cross West Main TWICE--once without the benefit of a crosswalk OR a light(always with me!) and then again with the crossing guard.

I agree that Carrboro is compact--but not everyone who frequents Carr Mill is FROM Carrboro...perhaps that is the solution to the tenant troubles. Perhaps they should ONLY allow tenants that appeal to Carrborians. How owuld one decide?

I promise not to come clog up the parking lot. That will leave it free for the locals. I'd quit shopping at WSM and turned in my number any way (and it was below 350--we joined the first year they opened). Ruby--you have convinced me!


Parking is an indespensible component of business success. There really shouldn't be a debate about that. It's just a fact.

In our desire to change habits and limit use of the automobile, we have decided that limiting parking will force people to seek alternative modes of transportation. This has proven successful in certain parts of lives, particularly when commuting to work (using park and rides to get to jobs at UNC) or moving masses of people to large,one time events (using park and rides to get to sporting events at UNC).

A problem occurs when we try to apply the same thinking to businesses which rely on customers. In those situations, convenience - both real and perceived - is a big driving factor in patronage decisions. Between comparable businesses, the one with a convenience advantage (distance + parking), will win. Thus limiting parking for businesses in our community puts them at risk when places like Southpoint and other areas of southern Durham county are just minutes away with large areas reserved for parking. (Please, don't tell me how YOU don't like walking across those big lots, and how YOU don't find parking difficult in town. The wild success of those centers, compared to the turnover in our areas, prove that most people find them, among other factors, more convenient.)

We need to limit automotive use wherever it makes sense, but it doesn't make sense when it comes to making a business location viable, as long as other businesses around us retain that competitive advantage. In fact, it is counterproductive to our overall goals to NOT provide ample parking for local businesses, because we generate more congestion and worse air quality when people decide to drive further for what they feel is a better shopping experience, starting with finding parking.

If we want a sustainable community, we need a healthy local economy which relies on making sure businesses are sustainable themselves. These are all trade-offs, but necessary ones for the short and long term success of our area.

Ruby--I understand. I tend to walk to U Mall if I'm not getting a weeks worth of groceries. But I think we are unusual! The question wasn't whether it was better to walk than drive--the question posed was--"why is Carr Mill having trouble keeping merchants?" I DO believe parking is one part of that picture. Not the WHOLE picture--but part!


Melanie, it's certainly unusual (and brave) to walk to University Mall. But if you hang out around Weaver Street Market at any time of day you'll see that I'm not at all unusual. Carrboro's downtown is full of pedestrians. The compactness and variety of resources there makes walking just as efficient and a lot more pleasant than driving. Some of this is by design (go planners!) and some by fortunate accident. Either way, let's keep it up!

Just a little information. The Carrboro Board of Alderman approved the construction of a two story building at Carrboro Plaza which will be an office building. Every time the Carrboro Plaza owner or his agent comes before us, we encourage them to think about building up. The present Board believes that building up instead of out implements part of our longterm planning document, Vision 2020 Statement. See Section 3.3, page 13 of the Vision 2020 Policy Document.

As far as gentrification, it can happen to any neighborhood that was constructed prior to the creation of Homeowner's associations. Those neighborhoods with homeowner's associations have less of gentrification, because they have more rules to maintain the exclusivity of the neighborhoods. Now that exclusivity places pressure on the non-HOA neighborhoods. In Chapel Hill and Carrboro, we see the effects.

As for economic development in Orange County, there are locations that the community can come together and agree on for some type of economic development. Heretofore, we have not had any concensus regarding what do about economic development in Orange County. I went to the economic development forum they had a couple of months ago sponsored by the Orange County Economic Develoment department. Only two of the commissioners were present. If you do not devote any time to the issue, then you see no movement, no policy, and no direction. A vision needs to be established, and then policy needs to be implemented. Some economic development can alleviate the taxes, (note I am not sayng it is the cure-all) but we have to create the type of development that fits in within the idea of maintaining some diversity in terms of ethnic, income, and social backgrounds, which we did have in the last 20th century.

Melanie, I go to Carr Mill several times a week and I never have trouble parking, especially since I usually don't bring my car there (although sometimes I have to). I appreciate the Board of Aldermen's support for people like me who are striving to live our lives face-to-face instead of bumper-to-bumper.

I worked in Carr Mill until early last summer. Part of the problem IS parking. Customers would complain of having to "circle" until someone left.

Another part of the problem, IMHO, is the mix of shops. Carr Mill was thriving until it lost its high end women's anchor--Talbots--and that is when the decline began. Fleet Feet and Townshend Bertram are wonderful stores--but bring in a VERY different demographic than Talbots.

Most recently two of Carr Mill's long-time establishments (O'Neill's Men's Clothing and Manire's Jewelry) left for University Mall in the last year. Both are thriving in their new location. Come to think of it--The Fine Art and Animation Gallery used to be in Carr MIll as well. I don't think there are any empty retail spots in Carr Mill currently--someone is renovating the space Manires used to be in.



First, a discussion issue: I believe that part of your message is a response to my post and another part is a response to Ruby. For clarity in attributing remarks, could you please specify whom you are addressing when you are responding to mulitple individuals? Thanks.

Back to urban development and firm location. If Carr Mill is experiencing a rise in vacancy, is it because of parking and access issues? Or is it a visibility problem? Carr Mill is largely self-enclosed. Is it the larger economy? Why do businesses that leave on Main St seem to get replaced quickly? (I forget what left before Celtic Wonders showed up, but I believe turnaround was fast) Is their parking much better than Carr Mill's? Or is parking access not the issue?

Are business rents in Carr Mill lower than those at other nearby businesses with more visibility from the sidewalk and the street? What kind of businesses are leaving? Retail? Are services moving in? Your assertion begs an interesting question about Carrboro tax policy- do Carrboro tax policies focus solely on retail, and allow services to operate untaxed? In which case, is this what is driving out retailers, and should we adjust tax policy to tax services and retail equally for revenue stability and equality purposes?

I just remembered that a lot of what I'm talking about was already covered in great detail by a study done a few years back. We may or may not have an example of "if you build it they will come," but we certainly have an example of "if you don't build it, they will leave."

"Then, in September of 2000, Carrboro’s largest information technology firm, Webslingerz, moved from Carrboro to Chapel Hill. Webslingerz, which employs about 30, builds web-based applications for other companies. Although the move was only a couple of miles to the east and most of Webslingerz employees still reside in Carrboro, it signaled a larger problem and a potential trend that concerned the town...The IT company that left Carrboro wanted to stay and enjoy these qualities [the nice amenities of downtown] of Carrboro but it outgrew its office space."

See the full report at http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/assets/documents/ED_Carrboro_rpt.pdf

Terri--thanks. Were we separated at birth? I was trying to lead the discussion that way--through "noodjing". Should know that doesn't work very well in WRITTEN form...better suited to group discussion.

And before anyone asks, NO, I don't have an ed degree--nor do I have anything past my BA in English. I'm just a student of life!


I like Duncan's phrase "neighborhoods have a right to protect themselves, within reason." Sometimes it seems the discussions on infill and sustainable growth are overly technical--zoning, planning, economics, etc.--and fail to account for the fact that people live in these neighborhoods and they have feelings about their homes. Their reasons for living in a particular neighborhood may be in part technical, such as affordability, but there are also aesthetic reasons, safety reasons, social reasons, and historical associations with the area. Neighborhoods reflect the people who live in them and if they like each other and feel common bonds, the community is stronger, better cared for, more able to fight off invasion... IMHO, those social and emotional rights of the people who constitute the neighborhood need to be factored into any discussion of growth and change. I don't believe that the social and emotional needs must take precedence over concerns about smart growth (we'd never have integration if that were the case), but I do think they need to be part of the conversation.

I've already spoken for Melanie once this week, but here goes again...I think that is the issue she has been trying to raise about Carrboro. Do you agree with my characterization of your thoughts Melanie? :~)

Jeff Vanke is right. I played the race card, not him, and I apologize for it.

In explanation, I had noticed more than one person comparing the efforts in Northside with those in other neighborhoods, and I couldn't figure out why. I assumed there was a "political correctness" jab being made, and perhaps I assumed wrong. This isn't the first time I've apologized on this board, and I assume it won't be the last. [Ed.: shouldn't you say, "We made a mistake, we dropped the ball, and it won't happen again?" DM: "Who's we?"]

I understand that the formal process Northside has just completed regarding its NCD will be available to other neighborhoods in Chapel Hill, and that the Northside neighborhood went first because it was generally thought that they were the neighborhood most in need of help. If anything, the NCD process upholds the idea that neighborhoods have a right to protect themselves, within reason. But I think any reasonable person would acknowledge that accepting the general principle doesn't mean you have to accept its application in every case.

I think you can be a proponent of the NCD and not be a BANANA, in other words.

Finally, without hyperbole I have nothing, Jeff. Don't take that away from me, please!

This is the first I've heard about 605 Main. It looks similar to Tommy Tucker's "Rosemary Village" project going up at the corner of Rosemary and Mitchell Streets. ( http://www.rosemaryvillage.net ) I have concerns about the yuppification of it and some design aspects, but I didn't oppose that in my neighborhood.

I am generally in favor of well-managed, pedestrian-friendly density in non-rural areas. Where's the inconsistency?


This thread started off about how we would increase the job base in Carrboro or Orange County, and that was what I was trying to address. On that point, the type of businesses that we could hope to attract given Carrboro's strengths and weaknesses in the economic development market would not settle in taller buildings at Carrboro Plaza.

They'd rather be in the downtown CH/C area, because it's the downtown amenities those businesses will seek. Conversely, the businesses that will want to locate at Carrboro Plaza will be highway-oriented and seek abundant parking, so while I would welcome increased density and urban form improvements at Carrboro Plaza, I don't think that accurately reflects market desires and I don't think it's likely to occur.

I would also suggest that you are asking to wrong question about downtown Carrboro businesses. The correct question to put to business is not "what if more space is added" but "what if changes made more people pass your business on a daily basis?"

It's much easier to bike/walk/bus to downtown Carrboro because of the narrower streets (ever try to bike on the bypass? I used to live at Ramsgate and crossing is quite a challenge), sidewalk coverage, and high level of access provided by the confluence of several major bus routes. The new businesses that would locate there would be able to have many employees arrive by alternative modes. Those people working in offices on upper floors in downtown Carrboro would certainly be walking to the bank, to lunch, to the the cleaners, Visart, etc. and providing traffic to existing businesses.

O.K., Patrick, Now we're reaching our core disagreements, and they have a lot to do with our different predictions.

It would be great if downtown Carrboro could become accessible to many more people. Right now, though, more businesses are leaving Carr Mill Mall than moving in. Many of those businesses around downtown will always rely on people who travel by car (either because they're very far away, or in my case, across Hwy 54 and a couple miles away, because traveling by bus with my 18-month-old is not usually a viable option, in combination with work and housework, etc.). So if the parking crunch deepens, new kinds of businesses will have to replace old ones, and I'll hazard (1) that the new ones would not produce as much sales tax, and (2)that downtown would become an even more exclusive area, accessible only to those within walking distance, an increasingly affluent set. If you want density AND social equity, look to the alternatives I discussed previously.

The inconsistency is between what you call "neighborhood preservation" in Chapel Hill and "NIMBYism" in Carrboro. (In Pacifica's case, for example, very few of its opponents propose zero development in that space. Same with Twin Magnolias, which is actually the development I was talking about. See the arrow at Main & Jones Ferry: http://carrboro.com/downtownmap.html .)

So what I'm saying about urban development is that it won't always work to have your field of dreams: "If you build it, they will come." Again, Carr Mill. We can move gently in that direction, but too much shock can damage businesses, their employees, and neighbors who could never afford to move a couple of blocks away for diminished traffic.


I have highlighted neighborhood preservation in Northside, because your distinction between preservation (in whatever form, duplexes or no) in one place versus density not very far away on Rosemary seems somewhat arbitrary. Perhaps that's my Carrboro perspective, where several neighborhoods are affected immediately and negatively by recently approved and proposed high-density projects. Which is one of my points. Our Main Street is not a Franklin or even a Rosemary.

Northside among all C.H. neighborhoods has been perhaps the most popular cause here on OP, which is why I cited that example, and I remain baffled (like Melanie) about the apparent contradiction against the same people's stands in Carrboro politics.

I'm trying to engage some critical debate here. I stand by my accusation of contradictory policy positions. That's a policy accusation, not a personal one. Sometimes OP works in hosting substantive, incisive, and civil debate, and I beseech you, please, to take my comments that way.

Ruby--605 West main is a three story building that will be built next door to S H Basnight and Company, on West main Street, in Carrboro. Aside from the town hall, it will be the tallest building on West Main. Mark brought it up becasue I mentioned it in a phone conversation we had, after he dug me out of the phone book. (I begin to see why people might post anonymously! ;-) ) I think it is completely out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood...(see the link--and imagine this next to Basnight's) but evidently the folks who still live on W. MAin don't object.


I didn't know about your vote one way or the other on the Norhside thing--I don't think I realized you were ON that board--I was reacting more to things I've seen in the paper and on this forum. Name calling bothers me--and that is what the phrase NIMBY amounts to. Sorry if you felt badgered to respond--just ignore us next time. Hope work and travel settle down.


OK, weighing in... I have repeatedly (for years!) promoted density in Chapel Hill. I have no idea what Jeff Vanke is talking about. If it's duplexes, I voted *against* the ban on duplexes as member of the Northside NCD. I don't even know what "605 West Main" is.

Sorry my insincts were off on the employment numbers. Sue me. I'm working, I'm travelling, I have stuff to do.

So Jeff, if we shouldn't oppose you for views we think you have but don't, can we oppose you for making veiled, uninformed accusations about us and our friends?

Actually, increasing density at the strip malls isn't such a bad idea--Carrboro Plaza could take some additional development. The parking lot there is NEVER full. Anyone besides me miss the Roses that used to be there? Or, more distantly, the cow pasture? Ruby probably remembers the cow pasture! Certainly that strip mall could support office space on top--at least from a parking/transport standpoint.

And why is it improper to compare the Northside/Chapel Hill infill debate with Carrboro infill debate? "I'm pretty sure that the issue in that (Northside) neighborhood is not aesthetics or the expense of parking."--actually--at the Town council meeting I saw where this came up--that WAS one of the issues. The house in question was going to LOOM over its neighbors--blocking out the sun. The neighbors were also concerned that it would end up as student housing--bringing MANY cars to the street.

Hey, Ruby--I think we need you to weigh in!



Knock off the race bit, O.K.? That was actually a thinly veiled Sinreich reference. I am on the record as speaking up in favor not only of Broad Street neighborhood preservation, but also for the Laurel Street area (also mostly African-American & historic), which the BoE upset with a new development between there and downtown.

My point is, there are historic neighborhoods near downtown Carrboro that see increasing traffic and parking loads because of Carrboro's downtown development. And they go beyond those named here.

The hyperbolic comparison of Willow Creek and Maple View was simplistic, and not up to your usual standards.

I usually think you're one of the most balanced writers here. Please treat me fairly, O.K.? I'm a Democrat who opposed the war and thinks Bush might be guilty of some egregious misrepresentations of mortal consequence. If you and others want to oppose me, please do it based on what I say and write and am, not based extrapolating my comments in a manner informed by stereotypes developed by people who haven't met me.

Jacobs warned against extrapolating certain aspects of her thinking to towns, but she didn't rule it out entirely. (Since much of what we think of as the city of New York was once the suburbs, she argues that in certain situations towns should be looking ahead.) The Chapel /Carrboro area is getting beyond the "town" size, anyway.

I catch your thinly veiled race reference. Northside and downtown Carrboro-- two different situations, unless you think that the people currently living in downtown Carrboro are in danger of being run out of town, or that they have equal historical claim to their neighborhood as the people in Northside. Maybe Ruby can shed more light on this, being a resident of Northside, but I'm pretty sure that the issue in that neighborhood is not aesthetics or the expense of parking.

Of course we _could_ increase density anywhere. We could increase density at strip malls, or in the middle of Maple View Farm. The question is where we _should_ increase density.

I'm not sure anything will really change if growth and development are handled separately by individual municipalities and the county. I'd like to see a county-wide planning process that takes into consideration the need for a sound by flexible economic base, future employment, good schools, and environmental sensitivity. I've been thinking alot about globalization while observing the democratic primaries. One way I've come to understand that concept is a breaking down of barriers by artificial, geographic boundaries. So is it even feasible to think that Orange Co alone can make any real, sustainable change? I think this was the original idea between the Triangle J Council of Governments--an organization I've heard very little about since returning to the area.



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