From correspondent Tammy Grubb
Carrboro can balance its need for more commercial development with its desire to protect the environment, Board of Aldermen and mayoral candidates said in a forum sponsored by the Sierra Club and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s deeply engrained in Carrboro’s culture,” incumbent Alderman Dan Coleman said.
Northern Carrboro is ideal for commercial growth, the candidates said at the Friday night forum. Mayor Mark Chilton said the town regularly encourages developers to include a commercial component of 20 percent to 30 percent in any new project.
Incumbent Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle and Chilton said the town also must continue to help existing small businesses thrive and expand. Community and Economic Development director
Annette Stone will continue to be important in that effort, they said.
Newcomer Michelle Johnson said the focus also should be on creating places to work and live in the downtown core, while building the town’s reputation as a place for tourists to enjoy arts and music.
The candidates agreed the town’s Energy Wise revolving loan program for green improvements, local business and government leaders’ dedication to making eco-friendly changes, and passage of the county’s quarter-cent sales tax will advance the town’s goals. In addition, regional cooperation and lobbying for state and federal funding will secure light rail and improved bus service, they said.
In a response to questions about parking, the candidates said Carrboro’s fee-free lots are an
important part of economic growth, although any UNC move to charge for park-and-ride lots could force the town to consider changes. Board challenger Braxton Foushee also wondered how much revenue the town is missing out on by keeping parking free.