South Greensboro Street is one step closer to a 44,000 square-foot shopping center after two more hours of public discussion last week.
By the time it was the Board of Aldermen’s turn to deliberate, the clock was nearing 11 p.m. Tuesday, so the hearing will continue at 7:30 p.m. May 26.
Prospective neighbors’ are concerned about noise, traffic and stormwater management.
Sharon Collins, who has lived on South Greensboro Street for decades, expressed her frustration with the project’s proposed traffic management plan, which includes a new roundabout at the intersection of South Greensboro and Pittsboro streets, right where her property sits.
“We feel we’ve been run over,” Collins said. “We were asked to cede the rights to part of our property without a penny of compensation.”
She complained to the board that the developer has surveyed her property without her permission and that her unwillingness to grant an easement for the traffic circle was misrepresented.
“We didn’t refuse to sell,” Collins said. “We were not offered a dime.” She said that she would not convey her land for the roundabout because she opposes it, citing the slope of the land and the lack of traffic on South Greensboro Street.
Developer Runyon Woods told the board that survey flags were placed on Collins’ property along the right-of-way to help envision another way to install the roundabout.
Collins also said she was concerned that a member of the town staff, whom she would not name, had advised her not to contact any of the aldermen about the proposed project prior to the public hearing.
In North Carolina, local town boards and city councils must hold evidentiary hearings to change a jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance. This is the case for the addition of the M-3-CU Special Manufacturing zone that the aldermen have created, allowing for the South Greensboro project to be built, if Woodhill NC, LLC’s Conditional Use Permit is approved.
During these hearings, unlike other more routine public hearings, the citizens who address the board are actually giving sworn testimony about facts that will help the board make its decision. In a more common public hearing, citizens can give an opinion about the proposed project without providing evidence to support their position. The public can always send written messages to the aldermen, but North Carolina statutes restrict what they can consider as evidence during re-zoning hearings.
Because of this unusual role, the Board of Aldermen (like judges or jurors) should not communicate directly with people who will be testifying except for asking them questions during the hearing.
Those addressing the board at Tuesday’s hearing (and the one that was held the week before) were sworn in to affirm their testimony was truthful – another requirement not typical for addressing the aldermen.
In the new M-3-CU zone, up to 40 percent of the gross square footage can include restaurants. The remaining 60 percent may only include uses already permitted in an M-1 zone. Many non-manufacturing uses (such as a shopping center) are already permitted by the town.
Neighbors from nearby Roberson Place asked for some clarification about how issues of excessive noise might be dealt with by the town, whether it emanated from a band playing or a truck delivering supplies either late at night or early in the morning. Noise from either of those sources is viewed as normal in the course of doing business, town officials said.
When it comes to the stormwater management, Collins said in an interview after the meeting that she believes continues development in that area is a bad idea. “The Board of Aldermen has already made a huge mistake in approving Roberson Place,” she said.
Collins argues that since the neighborhood was developed, the stormwater problems for a nearby trailer park on the south side of Greensboro Street, near N.C. 54, have worsened greatly.
The board will continue its public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, in Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St.