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Editor's Desk: Readers rush to defend Johnny's

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Readers quickly responded to correspondent Sarah Mansur's article about Johnny's this week. (See story here.)  Mansur reported how a local complaint about wine tastings at the popular grocery store-turned community hub, has the town reviewing its rules for alcohol-related events in residential zones. In the story co-manager Meghan Truesdell says they want to make the store on West Main Street "the tiny, little Weaver Street Market on this side of town." 

We've already received several letters from Johnny's fans, which we'll begin printing Sunday.

"It would be wrong to let the loud voices of a select few disrupt the happy murmur of a large and engaging community as they enjoy everything that this new Johnny’s has to offer," writes Gabriel Whaley (left), who recounts his first free cookie at Johnny's after a healthy, but not-so-tasty celery juice he bought there.

"Instead of bashing those who have issue with Johnny’s, I encourage those making complaints to actually come and try this new Johnny’s before they so vigorously attempt to tear down the rebuilding and rebranding effort of what may have been a disruptive force in the past, but is now on the straight path to potentially become one of the town’s best and most unique assets."

And here are a few more:

Jacob Yaniero: "A place where farmers bring their produce and dairy products to sell, a place where food trucks are substituted for fast food, and a place where the community comes together for a cup of coffee or to try some wine.  Johnny’s is Carrboro.  As a resident of this side of town I can attest to what this coffee shop does for the community. Do we really want Food Lion and Arby’s to be the only places on this side of town to shop or eat?  I thought that Carrboro was better than that."

Seth LaJeunesse: "The chance encounters I've experienced at Johnny's have rekindled my sense of peace and belonging in Carrboro; unsolicited, several others have shared similar socially affirming experiences. To label Johnny's a "neighborhood disruption" -- by the way, both of Johnny's managers live within a few parcels of the establishment, why would they purposefully "disrupt" their own neighborhood? -- or to suggest that the town commence regulation of occasional wine tastings is to actively suppress Johnny's place-making potential, and ultimately, Carrboro's inherent vitality."

Misha Becker: "I take my kids to Johnny's on Saturday mornings so we can pick up our CSA produce (from Small Potatoes Farm) and get the kids a bagel. It is a wonderful, warm, family-friendly business whose owners and managers care deeply about their community. I did not attend the wine tasting mentioned in the complaint, but I happened upon it when I went over to Johnny's to buy some milk. There were a few cars parked out front but all was quiet on the outside. Inside was a small but vibrant, happy gathering of people. I cannot imagine what harm this event could have possibly caused the community."

Look for the full versions of these letters next week in The Chapel Hill News and share yout thoughts on this and other issues at editor@newsobserver. Thanks for reading the CHN, distributed to 38,000 homes in Orange and northern Chatham counties Wednesdays and Sundays.    



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Minority Rights or Anarchy?

Reasonable, if you don't even live in Carrboro than how can you be so automatically certain that the minority's objections are even valid? And yes, this is a residential area, but it is very densely populated. Minorities have rights in Carrboro, but they don't have the right to to bully (and that is what is happening here) an establishment that is doing its best to listen to everyone's concerns and wishes. I know personanlly two former opponents who are now fine with Johnny's once they took the time to go inside and see for themselves what it's like--they both loved it!  Some of the loudest voices of opposition know little to nothing about it. You seem to be championing the minority view against the majority on all things. Let's take that view of yours to its logical conclusion. For example, the majority of neighbors and I might not like the the bright orange color that you paint your house. I wouldn't dream of telling you to repaint it because I don't like it, even if I lived next door to you. It's your house and it's your right to paint it the brightest, most obnoxious orange if that's what you want. I realize you cannot do that in a town like Cary, but we are Carrboro, and we do respect such rights. Also, I'm sure there exists a minority of people in Carrboro and elsewhere who don't like the fact that people can drink alcohol in our town or even in our county. So should all alcohol be banned for the vast majority of us just because the minority doesn't approve? Your views on minorities are truly a recipe for anarchy. 

I clearly stated that I

I clearly stated that I didn't know who was legally in the right.  As far as who is "right" in terms of preference, that is subjective.  Something can bother one person and not bother another.

Please explain to me how the minority without the power can "bully" the majority with the power.  By definition, bullying comes from the people with the power, which in this case is your side.  It took courage for that guy to publicly attach his name to the complaint and the rhetortic in reponse, including calling him a "bully," is very ugly.

If you're legally in the right then prove your case.  If you're not legally in the right then try to persuade the people against your side to come around.  But when a minority tries to assert themselves and get a hail of invective from the majority in response it is not pleasant to see.

Reasonable? Hardly

Yes, Reasonable, our system of government respects minortity rights. You don't like Johnny's. We know that. But the vast majority of people that live near either do or they don't have a problem with it. You don't like it? Well, don't patronize it!  That is your right, but your right ends when you try to infringe on my right and the right of hundreds of others in our area to patronize an establishment that feels like a home away from home, where I can see my neighbors and friends every day. Nobody is hurting you, there is no bar or den of iniquity inside Johnny's, just people of all ages from young children to senior citizens getting together in a way that for some bizarre reason causes you sleepless nights. 





Read more here:

I don't dislike Johnny's. 

I don't dislike Johnny's.  I had never even heard of Johnny's until this story was in the news.  I don't live near it.  I recognize a majority bullying a minority though and this has the hallmarks of it.

I don't know the legalities involved or who is legally correct.  But it doesn't matter though because regardless of that, Johnny's will win and the minority will get steamrolled.  If the person/people against Johnny's has a valid legal objection then the powers that be will just change the law.  When the majority uses venomous language to demonize the minority like I've seen on here and elsewhere then the game is over unless the government in question is strongly committed to protecting the minority even if it means taking heat from the public.  And the government of Carrboro sure as heck won't do that.

I did drive out last weekend to see where Johnny's was out of curosity.  It's not in a densely populated area like the othe person said.  It's in a residential neighborhood.

Johnny's is the spirit of Carrboro

I do not understand how a very small handful of people can be permitted to bully a family-friendly place like Johnny's that is the very embodiement of what make Carrboro special. Johnny's is a place where people of all ages, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds all gather to enjoy the company of each other. Johnny's has Carrboro written all over it, and it's the kind of place that makes other communities like Chapel Hill want to be more like us here in Carrboro. These few but vocal haters wouldn't understand that because they never take the time to go inside and see what is actually going on at Johnny's, which has quickly become one of the Crown Jewels of Carrboro. These opponents firmly believe that Johnny's is a bar or a den of iniquity  (!) when it is to the contrary a warm and inviting community gathering place with a unique local atmosphere that contributes to Carrboro being the ecclectic, interesting place it has become over the years. I know the owners and the employees and they are all good  and reasonable people who have tried very hard to work with this small handful of vocal opponents. Unfortunately, these few opponents cannot be reasoned with at all. I guess they won't be satisifed until Johnny's returns to the days when it was a popular hangout for prostitutes and drug dealers, both of which could be seen every evening. It makes me sad that such an extremely small group of people whose narrow-minded, and I believe mean-spirited and sanctimonious views can pretend to speak for a neighborhood and town whose views are quite the opposite of their own. Carrboro and Johnny's are all about acceptance, diversity, and above all, community. That's the Carrboro I know and love, and you can easily find it on any given day at Johnny's! 

Let's list the things you

Let's list the things you have label people simply because they disagree with you:

Bullies.  Haters.  Unreasonable.  In favor of prostitution and drug dealing.  Narrow minded.  Mean spirited.  Sanctimoniuos.

And yet you end with, "Carroboro and Johnny's are all about acceptance, diversity and above all, community."

One of the best things about our system of government in general is that we respect minority rights.  We don't say "You know, not many people think like you do, so screw you, we majority will do what we want."  Instead we say "Respect minority rights, not only when you're in the minority, but always."  If we only respect minority rights when we're in the minority then we don't respect minority rights at all.

Complainant doesn't understand law

The complainant states that offering wine tastings is an expansion of a non-conforming use. Johnny's is entitled to operate with all of the accessory uses that a zoning compliant business offers. Expansion, in this case, refers to the building. If Johnny's opened an art gallery upstairs, for example, that would constitute an expansion. Adding laundry detergent would not be an expansion.

I do not understand why

I do not understand why people move to a densely populated area and then expect to live as though they were surrounded by acres of virgin timber.   Maybe the complainers should walk up the street and see what's so attractive. 

That area is not densely

That area is not densely populated.

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About the blogger

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