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Abbey Court gives Human Rights Center 90 days

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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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Concern for the kids

While the center obviously does great work in the community, there has to be some concern for the safety of the kids, and in Abbey Court's eyes the civil liability.  From another site, "One of The Human Rights Center’s biggest projects has been a partnership with Scroggs Elementary School.  The Center provides Scroggs students with tutors and homework assistance during after school hours."

To partner with a school at this location is EXTREMELY alarming because of the criminal element at Abbey Court.  The police often conduct drug raids at Abbey Court, deal with fights and seize weapons.  I also have information from a reliable source that there are at least three people who live and/or frequent Abbey Court who have priors for secret peeping (peeping Toms).  Frank Cruz, an accused serial rapist whose cases are pending, allegedly committed at least one of his rapes at Abbey Court.  While I was aware that the HRC was active in Abbey Court I had no idea that they partnered with a local school.  That is truly scary. 
 

The kids live there!

The kids who receive tutoring at the HRC live in Abbey Court. They and their families have to deal with crime in the neighborhood no matter what.  The partnership between Scroggs and the HRC gives those kids a safe, supervised place to spend their afterschool time. They're keeping the kids safe and helping those kids avoid joining the gangs that have plagued Abbey Court / Old Well for years. We need more school/neighborhood partnerships like this, not fewer. It's a shame to lose this one.

Doubtful

I find it hard to believe that every child that is involved in the Scroggs after school program lives at Abbey Court.  Even so, I would think Abbey Court would face some civil liability having a school program on their residential property.  I see where they are coming from. 

2 different programs

Scroggs has a standard after school program at the school. The program at the HRC is a separate program for students who are residents at Abbey Court.

Since all of the students in the HRC program are Abbey Court residents, there is not any additional liability to the property owner. The fact that they're in the center and not playing in the parking lot probably reduces the owners' liability.

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About the blogger

Mark Schultz is the editor of The Chapel Hill News and The Durham News.
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