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Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center closes on new property

By Tammy Grubb

The Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center closed the deal Thursday on a $155,000 house at 107 Barnes St., just blocks from its Abbey Court home on Jones Ferry Road.

Director Judith Blau said the group will march at 12:45 p.m. Saturday from Building E in Abbey Court to the 1,075-square-foot, three-bedroom ranch house. After the necessary permits are secured, the center’s afterschool program and other activities will move to Barnes Street. The property is zoned residential, but town officials have indicated the programs might be allowed to continue with a Home Occupation permit.

Center officials also will ask the town to allow a new workers’ center, where day laborers can have a safe, comfortable place to find work, learn job skills and get help with wage theft and other employment issues. Interim Town Manager Matt Efird has said the exact requirements, whether that means a permit or a rezoning, will depend on the information the town receives from the center, possibly by early spring.

In emails to town officials, Blau has said moving the afterschool program will be the “highest priority,” followed by the adult programs.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Human Rights Center finds new home

By correspondent Tammy Grubb

The Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center may have received news of the best Christmas gift ever – a new home around the corner from its old neighborhood.

Director Judith Blau said the HRC put a three-bedroom, brick ranch house at 107 Barnes St. under contract Dec. 23 for $155,000. County records show the 1,075-square-foot house was built in 1970 and is owned by Dorothy and Bernard Atwater. It is valued at $138,363.

They still need to close on the house, but after the sale goes through, Blau said they might improve the gravel driveway and build another room. Interim Town Manager Matt Efird said the group first must seek a home occupation permit or some type of rezoning. The exact requirements will depend on the information HRC officials submit, possibly by early spring, he said.

100 march peacefully to support Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center

From correspondent Tammy Grubb

Chanting “Human Rights for Abbey Court,” nearly 100 people marched peacefully Saturday through downtown Carrboro to the condominium complex to protest Thursday’s decision to oust the Human Rights Center.

Abbey Court residents looked out their windows and doors as the protesters marched by to the tune of a tuba, drums and an accordion. Some joined the march, swelling its ranks to more than 150 as the group reached the parking lot outside the HRC’s building.

“This is so overwhelming that you are standing up for human rights,” HRC director Judith Blau told the crowd. “We will do our best to find a house nearby.”

The board of directors of Abbey Court’s homeowners association voted Thursday to give the nonprofit group until March 1 to move out of two units in the Jones Ferry Road complex. The board was concerned about liability and that the HRC runs a commercial or public service in a residential area, management officials said.

Abbey Court gives Human Rights Center 90 days

From correspondent Tammy Grubb  

A decision Thursday night by a homeowners association board sets a 90-day deadline for the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center to find a new home.  

A Nov. 16 letter from Abbey Court HOA attorney Tina Frazier Pace charged the nonprofit HRC with operating a commercial enterprise in a residential area and displaying signs without the board’s permission outside the group’s two condos in the Jones Ferry Road complex.  

Since Nov. 22, the HRC has gathered more than 2,000 signatures on an online petition opposing the HOA’s decision. The group had hoped to stay the move until May 15, Director Judith Blau said.  

However, the three-member HOA Board of Directors voted 2-1 Thursday in a private meeting held in Raleigh to forgo a proposed $100 per day fine for each violation. The board instead gave the HRC until March 1 to move.  

The HRC has operated a variety of community services at Abbey Court since opening in 2009. Director Judith Blau said recently the group has been working with Community Realty to find a house nearby where it can continue to provide afterschool tutoring and other programs related to health, human rights, financial independence, education and language. The group’s work is supported by community volunteers and UNC students, many of whom learn about the center through Blau’s sociology classes.  

“We have a zoning variance from the town of Carrboro. We’re a 501(c)3. Somebody lives there. We have many, many programs,”Blau said. “We do so many things, and we don’t deserve that treatment.”  

HRC supporters have planned a 3:30 p.m. march Saturday from the Free Market at the Carrboro Town Commons to protest the Abbey Court decision.  

If you'd like to speak with the reporter covering this story please contact Tammy Grubb at 336-380-1325 or tammy.grubb@yahoo.com

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