Monday, August 28, 2000
Carrboro Fights Sprawl
With Containment Plan
By Kellie Dixon
Assistant City Editor
As other cities in the Triangle and
across the state continue to expand, the
Carrboro Board of Aldermen is looking
to keep the town’s growth contained
with a plan called “infill.”
Infill is the board’s attempt to keep
development concentrated. Developers
would be encouraged to build in areas
that already have infrastructure such as
water lines and sewer lines.
The point of infill is to curb sprawl
while constructing a diverse communi
ty, easing transportation problems and
sparing Mother Nature, said several
Alderman Allen Spalt said the pri
mary motivation behind the plan is to
encourage development in areas that
are already developed.
“Our town already has roads, streets,
water and sewer, and there are a few
empty lots that aren’t using their space
up to its potential,” he said.
But he also said the aldermen are not
looking to build too high.
“We’re not talking about skyscrapers
here, but buildings maybe three or five
stories high,” he said. “If you built a
building at least one-story tall behind
Main Street and left the underground to
be a parking lot, you wouldn’t lose park
ing. And all of the people living down
town can commute without driving.”
Aldermanjacquelyn Gist said for the
past 20 to 25 years the town has strug
gled with the situation but said infill
could be the answer they have sought.
“For about six to seven years we have
had an ordinance in place that says if
you develop a large area, then 40 per
cent of that space has to be open (area),”
she said. “Houses that are close together
might not have a big backyard, but
there’s a lot of open growth between
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Behind the scenes, Carrboro
Planning Department is responsible for
facilitating infill-related projects and
enforcing regulations, said Trish
McGuire, planning administrator.
“If the board is encouraging infill, we
will create regulatory context that will
support it,” she said.
Spalt said that by encouraging con
centrated development, the area can
achieve many gods.
“It’s everything from building a com
munity to being kind to the environ
ment to making a more sane trans
portation system," he said.
He said town leaders are also dis
cussing a trolley system that would link
Carrboro residents to the UNC campus.
“We need to encourage development
that makes it economical to have some
thing other than car transportation.”
He said that because the areas will be
more compact, public parks and com
munity recreational centers will be pro
vided as well -and all within walking
“We want to continue that density,
but we want to do that without changing
the character of the town,” he said.
Carrboro Town Manager Robert
Morgan said he thinks the basic purpose
of infill is to provide affordable housing
and to require open areas.
“It is cost effective,” he said. “It takes
advantage of the infrastructure we
Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson said
the town wants to keep certain areas
“We’re trying to preserve as much of
the green areas as possible,” he said.
“The point is to fill in rather than fill out
and spread out.”
The City Editor can be reached
Officials Doubt Class Cap's Impact
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City
Schools has already enrolled
150 more students than had
been projected for the year.
By Courtney Mabeus
Assistant City Editor
Some officials say the implementa
tion of an enrollment cap designed to
combat severe overcrowding at
McDougle Elementary School might not
be enough to alleviate the problem.
On Aug. 17, the Chapel Hill-
Carrboro Board of Education approved
limiting oass size to 26 students in
grades K-2 and to 29 in grades 3-5.
Students who enroll after class capac
ity has been reached will be reassigned
to Carrboro, Estes Hills or Glenwood
elementary schools, said Neil Pedersen,
Tenacious Nuclear Activist Gains Notoriety
By Phil Perry
Jim Warren has been in the papers a
lot lately. Publicly confronting a Fortune
500 company tends to have that effect.
With Carolina Power & Light’s pro
posed expansion of the Shearon Harris
Nuclear Power Plant looming in the
future, Warren, executive director of
N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction
Network, stands out as a vocal opponent
of the change.
Originally from Burlington, Warren
has been with N.C. WARN for the past
seven years. A 1978 UNC graduate with
a degree in accounting, Warren was
involved in the community long before
he was the executive director of N.C.
“I did activist stuff on the side for a
long time," he said. “I got a chance to do
it full time and jumped at it.”
Since then he has tackled public safe
ty issues, specifically devoting his time
to batding CP&L. CP&L has proposed
an expansion of a nuclear power plant
that Warren and N.C. WARN consider
unsafe due to the expanded amount of
radioactive nuclear waste at the plant.
“It’s an entirely avoidable risk,”
Warren said. “The potential is there for
a nuclear accident which would dwarf
anything the industry has ever seen, bar
A nuclear accident at Shearon Harris
could release up to 790 kilograms of
cesium-137 into the atmosphere, accord
ing to N.C. WARN estimates. By com
parison, Warren points out that
Chernobyl released only 27 kilograms.
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superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro
City Schools. No students have been
turned away yet, he added.
At McDougle, almost all classes
already meet or exceed state legal guide
lines with nearly 25 or 26 students per
class. McDougle Principal Sam Roman-
Oertwig said the cap provides some
needed relief. “We need less kids; that’s
the solution,” she said.
Ultimately, enrollment caps and
redistricting will not provide an ample
solution to overcrowding, she said. The
real issue, Roman-Oertwig said, is
increased development, which attracts
more people to the area each year.
“We need to have a slow down on
building in this town,” she said. “We
need to have a cap on that.”
Board members also considered two
alternatives to the enrollment cap,
Pedersen said. They discussed adding a
twenty-ninth classroom teacher but
Due to the potential enormity of any
accident, Warren and N.C. WARN are
working to block the expansion. It is a
“classic no-brainer,” Warren said.
Warren’s efforts have not gone unno
ticed, having won the respect of N.C.
WARN and leaders across the state. N.C.
WARN board member Lewis Pitts said
he works well with Warren and has for 15
years. “He’s very thorough and compe
tent in the way he can analyze and write
up things. (He is) fair and sincere in relat
ing to people,” he said.
Warren has chosen a formidable
opponent in CP&L. But Pitts said he is
unlikely to back down.
“(There are) often efforts to margin
alize his work and him, and he does a
tremendous job of not letting that hap
pen,” Pitts said.
Chapel Hill Town Council member
Kevin Foy said he also is impressed by
Warren. “Look at the impact that N.C.
WARN has had on a Fortune 500 com
pany," Foy said. “This is an extraordinary
individual to accomplish all that he has.”
Warren’s achievements have been
aided by his passion and eloquence. He
accused CP&L of “corporate tyranny”
because of its reluctance to have open
scientific discussions and its hiring a
“gang of lawyers” to push the expansion
“CP&L has gone to extraordinary
measures to deny any semblance of
democratic process,” Warren said. “(It’s
a) corporate abuse of process... What is
it that CP&L is afraid of? Why can’t they
openly defend this project?”
Warren’s tenacity has made him well
known in influential circles, like the
decided that would cut down on space
and displace a program such as music,
art or physical education.
“We’re trying not to add another
teacher,” Pedersen said. “And,
(McDougle officials) didn’t want us to.”
Board members also decided against
relocating a pre-kindergarten class at
McDougle to another area school.
But even with the cap, McDougle
teachers and administrators are feeling
the pressure of overcrowding.
“They’re concerned about the fact
that we have 26 students in a class,”
Roman-Oertwig said. “That doesn’t do
anybody any good.”
Ann Taylor has 26 four- and five
year-olds in her kindergarten class at
McDougle and one assistant to help her
during class time. She called the over
“It’s sheer numbers to begin with,”
she said. “The problem is just having
I sUft j_ * • ji Mfe
Jim Warren, executive director of the N.C. Waste Awareness and
Reduction Network, adorns his office with socially conscious messages.
Carrboro Board of Aldermen.
Alderman Allen Spalt said he has
known Warren for nearly 15 years.
“He has been dedicated to social jus
tice and positive change for all the time
that I’ve known him,” Spalt said.
Keeping the possible Shearon Harris
expansion in die minds of residents
requires Warren to be an authority on
nuclear power, local officials say.
“He is a well-informed and highly
respected person in what he does, which
is monitor the nuclear industry,” Foy
said. “He has a wealth of information
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that many little bodies here.”
With more than 9,400 students
enrolled in the school system, the district
has already exceeded its projected
enrollment by nearly 150 children this
year, Pedersen said.
McDougle and Seawell elementary
schools have more than 650 students
enrolled. Other area schools enroll 37J5
to 550 students at the elementary level.
In light of these figures, Pedersen said
overcrowding is an issue the school
board will be examining in the future.
But, for now, the board does not
anticipate adding caps at other schools.
“We’ll continue to watch enrollment
figures, but I don’t think we’ll need to
institute caps at other schools this year,? 1
he said. “It will be something to be con
sidered for next year.”
The City Editor can be reached
about what is going on, not only in
North Carolina but throughout the
Warren said he is optimistic about
N.C. WARN’s chances of blocking the
expansion and stopping CP&L’s “cor
porate tyranny.” He credits the Student
Environmental Action Coalition, based
in Chapel Hill, with being a tremendous
asset in the fight against CP&L.
“Together, we intend to win.”
The City Editor can be reached
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