Carrboro's new voters could decide elections

Staff WriterNovember 3, 2007 

— Karen Sauve says she shouldn't have to live downtown to be able to walk to buy her milk.

In the last town election, she had no say over what might get built near her neighborhood. The Board of Aldermen annexed it too late for her to vote.

Now, Carrboro has 850 new residents, and what they're saying could help decide Tuesday's town elections.

Sauve doesn't go to downtown Carrboro or Chapel Hill, she said, because there's too little parking and the clothing stores sell only "fancy, boutiquey things." She'd like to see stores like those in University Mall near her neighborhood, she said, along with some groceries, cafes and gas stations.

"I don't feel like a part of Carrboro," Sauve said. "If they can make this a walking area like downtown Carrboro, that's fine. But it's hard to see unification [of the town] if you have two downtowns."

Deanna Ravenscraft wants the northern area to remain a transition area between downtown and the rural parts of town.

Ravenscraft's family moved from their home behind the Timberlyne Shopping Center 15 years ago to be closer to the schools, because it's quiet and they could have a bigger house. She doesn't mind driving five miles for her groceries.

"I knew that when I came out here," she said.

Mike Adler is more in the middle. He could support some commercial development in the area, as long as it's done right.

"Really, my concern is protecting existing neighborhoods," he said. "I would like to see candidates protect this area, like the Bolin Creek, instead of focusing on building high-density housing."

The aldermen want to double the town's commercial tax base. Currently, more than 80 percent of the property tax base is residential. A four-month moratorium that ended Oct. 26 put a temporary hold on major residential developments on 3,787 acres in northern Carrboro.

Of all the candidates, Mayor Mark Chilton has offered the most specific vision for how the town should grow. He wants to see residential and commercial space in areas around Homestead Road and to preserve the area west of Old N.C. 86 for the next 10 years.

Chilton faces two challengers. Chuck Morton has emphasized the need for lower-cost housing, while Brian Voyce worries about density and says Carrboro needs to determine its carrying capacity to preserve residents' quality of life.

The candidates for aldermen generally agree on the need for commercial development in the northern area.

Sharon Cook wants to see light industrial, office and retail spaces. She opposes high-density developments and thinks there's already too much traffic.

Katrina Ryan, who shares campaign signs with Cook, wants to see mid-scale commercial development zones in northern and western Carrboro to balance the residential tax base.

Lydia Lavelle also wants to designate areas for commercial projects while expanding public transportation and access for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Incumbent Joal Hall Broun wants to mix retail and office space of different sizes near major intersections served by public transportation. She wants development that combines residential and commercial space with sidewalks and bikeways connecting to other parts of town.

Incumbent Dan Coleman supports being able to walk or bike everywhere and mixing residential and commercial growth on a scale with surrounding neighborhoods. He has emphasized the need to help smaller, locally owned businesses thrive.

Although Frank Abernethy recognizes the need for more commercial development in the north, he has emphasized preserving green space. He wants to see a community park built there and hire more police officers to help patrol the northern neighborhoods.

meiling.arounnarath@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-2004

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