Category Archives: news

Resolution on Tenants’ Rights

Carrboro is unlike most communities in North Carolina (and throughout the United States) in its high proportion of renter-occupied housing. At our annual retreat on Sunday, the Board of Aldermen adopted the resolution below to recognize recent work by Orange County Justice United, EmPOWERment, Inc, the UNC Civil Legal Assistance Clinic, and the Orange County Human Relations Commission in developing a “Declaration of Tenants Rights and Obligations” (English- and Spanish-language versions).

A RESOLUTION ENDORSING ORANGE COUNTY JUSTICE UNITED’S EFFORTS TO INFORM TENANTS OF THEIR RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS

WHEREAS, according to the 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, approximately 65 percent of occupied housing units in Carrboro are occupied by renters; and

WHEREAS, tenants and potential tenants of rental housing may face unfair treatment, including disparate assessment of rent and fees; poor maintenance; improper eviction procedures; and discriminatory acts; and

WHEREAS, Orange County Justice United has worked previously with the Town of Carrboro, property owners and managers, and a variety of community partners to address instances of unfair treatment of tenants; and

WHEREAS, federal fair housing law and Chapter 42 of the North Carolina General Statutes define the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords; and

WHEREAS, Orange County Justice United, EmPOWERment, Inc, and the Orange County Human Relations Commission recently worked with students from the UNC Civil Legal Assistance Clinic to draft a “Declaration of Tenants Rights and Obligations”; and

WHEREAS, Orange County Justice United and EmPOWERment, Inc, held three fair housing workshops in 2013 to present information about tenants’ rights and to solicit public comment on the Declaration; and

WHEREAS, the Declaration summarizes the rights and obligations of tenants in Orange County, North Carolina, and provides a list of resources for tenants and potential tenants who are seeking additional information and assistance; and

WHEREAS, the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Chapel Hill Town Council, and the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors have endorsed the Declaration;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:

SECTION 1. The Board of Aldermen endorses the efforts of Orange County Justice United to inform tenants of their rights and responsibilities.

SECTION 2. The manager is directed to assist Orange County Justice United in identifying methods of disseminating the “Declaration of Tenants Rights and Obligations” to tenants, potential tenants, residential property managers, and landlords in Carrboro’s planning jurisdiction.

SECTION 3. This resolution shall become effective upon adoption.

Comments to the North Carolina Utilities Commission

This evening, I made the following comments to the North Carolina Utilities Commission at a hearing in Hillsborough regarding proposed Duke Energy rate increases:

“With more and more funding cuts being made at state and federal levels, North Carolina’s towns, cities, counties, and school districts must provide vital services on increasingly constrained budgets. Fashionable fiscal austerity policies in Raleigh are shifting the burden to local governments, and many have found they must raise taxes to maintain services and quality of life.

“So far, my town has been relatively fortunate. We have been able to avoid property tax increases for the past few years. But, like other municipalities, we have done this in part by postponing much needed maintenance and improvement of infrastructure and equipment.

“Another rate increase by Duke Energy will mean higher costs for local governments. A major cost for a town like Carrboro, and the single largest source of the town’s municipal carbon dioxide emissions, is street lighting. In addition to a large rate hike for residential customers, Duke Energy is proposing an increase in lighting costs, even while neglecting to make it easier for municipalities to lease high-efficiency lighting infrastructure. So another rate increase will hit Duke’s residential customers doubly hard, both directly through their power bills and indirectly through their municipal taxes.

“We also should not overlook the fact that today, about two hours ago, Orange County declared a state of emergency in response to Sunday’s catastrophic flooding that displaced dozens of our neighbors. Not surprisingly, many of those most affected by the flooding are lower-wealth residents who have limited resources and social support networks to assist them through this crisis — the same people who will be burdened by bigger electric bills. Once again, it is our local governments, along with nonprofit agencies, that will bear the costs of providing services to those in need.

“We know, unequivocally, that we can expect more of these kinds of emergencies. Global climate change is here, and the odds have changed to make extreme weather events more likely.

“Duke Energy and other electric utility providers should be giving priority to energy efficiency and conservation. Instead, we have been presented with a plan that aims to achieve the opposite.

“This is not the time to put greater pressure on North Carolina’s towns and cities. Duke Energy should be asked to tighten its belt just like everyone else. Instead, Duke is seeking yet another rate increase to pay for dirty, dangerous, and costly forms of energy production that its customers don’t need.”

Another Resolution on Rogers Road

On Tuesday, June 18, the Board of Aldermen unanimously adopted a resolution to reaffirm its commitment to participating in provision of a community center and sewer improvements in the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood.

A RESOLUTION TO PROVIDE COMMENT ON ALTERNATIVES DISCUSSED BY THE
HISTORIC ROGERS ROAD NEIGHBORHOOD TASK FORCE

WHEREAS, for more than 40 years, the people of Orange County have burdened the Rogers Road community by disposing of municipal solid waste in the nearby landfill; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Aldermen believes that Orange County, the Town of Carrboro, and the Town of Chapel Hill should work in partnership to equitably, and in proportion to their responsibility, share the costs of providing a community center and sewer improvements in the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood, just as the partners share the privilege of owning, operating, and using the landfill; and

WHEREAS, on November 14, 2012, the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force unanimously recommended to the Assembly of Governments “that the costs of both a New Community Center and Sewer Improvements be shared by the local governments, at the same costs sharing percentages as outlined in the 1972 Landfill Agreement, 43% for Orange County, 43% for The Town of Chapel Hill and 14% for The Town of Carrboro”; and

WHEREAS, 14% of the estimated cost of providing a community center and sewer improvements in the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood is approximately $900,000; and

WHEREAS, on September 18, 2012, the Board of Aldermen unanimously adopted the following statement: “The Town of Carrboro has the intention of contributing not more than $900,000 for the town’s portion of the community center and cost of the sewer project. The town manager shall research funding sources. Town staff shall also investigate how the town can recoup the sewer line investment costs from developers. The board expresses its appreciation to the county for their commitment to the project and requests that the Town of Chapel Hill consider their share of the contribution”; and

WHEREAS, on June 12, 2013, the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force discussed two alternative plans for sewer improvements in the neighborhood and requested comment on those plans from the Board of Aldermen, the Chapel Hill Town Council, and the Orange County Board of Commissioners; and

WHEREAS, alternative 1 involves construction of a sewer project to serve 78% of the parcels in the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood (segments 5, 6, and 8 on the Historic Rogers Road Area Sewer Concept May 2012 Map) at an estimated cost of approximately $3.7 million. Under this alternative, the Town of Carrboro would contribute $900,000 toward the cost of the sewer project, and Orange County would contribute the remaining $2.8 million. The Town of Chapel Hill would not contribute to the sewer project but would reimburse Orange County for the cost of constructing the community center (estimated at $650,000); and

WHEREAS, alternative 2 involves construction of a sewer project to serve 100% of the parcels in the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood (segments 1 through 8 on the Historic Rogers Road Area Sewer Concept May 2012 Map) at an estimated cost of approximately $5.8 million. Under this alternative, the Town of Carrboro would contribute up to $900,000 toward the cost of the community center and the sewer project, and Orange County and the Town of Chapel Hill would contribute the remaining amount. This alternative would require the Town of Chapel Hill to initiate a request for extraterritorial jurisdiction and Orange County to approve the request so that the Town of Chapel Hill can contribute funds for its share of the community center and the sewer project in proportion to its responsibility; and

WHEREAS, the attachment to this resolution shows the costs and potential cost sharing associated with each of the alternatives;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:

SECTION 1. The Board of Aldermen prefers alternative 2 for two reasons. First, this alternative will provide sewer improvements to the entire Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood. Second, this alternative will enable all of the partners—Orange County, the Town of Carrboro, and the Town of Chapel Hill—to equitably share the costs of the community center and sewer improvements in proportion to their responsibility.

SECTION 2. If the Orange County Board of Commissioners and the Chapel Hill Town Council do not favor pursuing alternative 2, the Board of Aldermen is willing to explore alternative 1 and remains committed to contributing not more than $900,000 for the town’s portion of the community center and sewer improvements.

SECTION 3. The clerk is directed to send a copy of this resolution to the chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the mayor of the Town of Chapel Hill, and the members of the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force.

ATTACHMENT TO THE RESOLUTION

Alternative 1

Costs

  • Sewer: $3,700,000
  • Community center: $650,000
  • Total: $4,350,000

Cost Share Among the Partners

  • Carrboro: $900,000 (20.7%)
  • Chapel Hill: $650,000 (14.9%)
  • Orange County: $2,800,000 (64.4%)

Alternative 2

Costs

  • Sewer: $5,800,000
  • Community center: $650,000
  • Total: $6,450,000

Cost Share Among the Partners

  • Carrboro: $900,000 (14.0%)
  • Chapel Hill: share to be determined ($2,775,000 [43.0%])
  • Orange County: share to be determined ($2,775,000 [43.0%])

Carrboro’s Towing Rules

See here for an important update. [September 3, 2014]

With the news today that the North Carolina Court of Appeals lifted the injunction on the Town of Chapel Hill’s towing ordinance, here’s a primer on the Town of Carrboro’s rules about the towing of vehicles from private property:

  • The towing company may not charge more than $100 for the towing of your car.
  • The towing company may not charge more than $20 per day for the storage of your car.
  • The towing company may not begin charging for the storage of your car until 24 hours after towing the car.
  • The towing company must accept payment by major credit/debit card or cash.

To learn more, read page 8-32 of the Carrboro Town Code at http://townofcarrboro.org/TC/PDFs/TownCode/TownCodeCh08.pdf.

The town will be sending a letter this week to local businesses explaining the towing rules. If a towing company tells you something inconsistent with the rules above, please contact the town manager at TownManager@townofcarrboro.org.

Statement on Mega Moral Monday

Mayor Mark Chilton, Alderwoman Michelle Johnson, Alderman Damon Seils, and Alderman Sammy Slade of Carrboro; and Council Member Donna Bell of Chapel Hill

From left to right, Mayor Mark Chilton, Alderwoman Michelle Johnson, Alderman Damon Seils, and Alderman Sammy Slade of Carrboro; and Council Member Donna Bell of Chapel Hill

This morning, Mayor Chilton released the following statement about yesterday’s events at the North Carolina General Assembly:

“Yesterday, I went to the General Assembly with Carrboro Aldermen Sammy Slade, Damon Seils and Michelle Johnson as well as Chapel Hill Town Councilmember Donna Bell. We went to lawfully and respectfully seek to exercise our State Constitutional rights under Article I, section 12: ‘The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.’

“We asked to meet with House Speaker Thom Tillis. We obeyed building rules by not carrying signs or clapping or singing and we were unlawfully and unconstitutionally placed under arrest.

“We sought to apply to Speaker Tillis for a redress of our grievances about curtailment of voting rights, reductions in public education, the assault on women’s right to choose, the undermining of Jordan Lake water quality, the decision not to expand Medicaid, the reduction in unemployment benefits and several other issues of critical concern to the people of North Carolina.

“If Article I, section 12 does not mean that duly elected local representatives of the people have the right to come to the General Assembly while it is in session and peacefully, quietly and calmly request a meeting with a member of the State House of Representatives, then I have to ask: What does it mean?”

Budget Season

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing on the town manager’s recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Some highlights include:

  • no increase in the property tax rate (for the fifth consecutive year);
  • retirement of debt for the Adams Tract, the Century Center, the Martin Luther King Jr Park property, and the Old NC 86 public works property;
  • an increase in the human services grant budget; and
  • a small cost-of-living increase for town employees.

And don’t forget the purchase of a new front-loader garbage truck!

The proposed budget is available on the town’s website here and from the town clerk.

Your alderpersons want to hear from you. Reach out to us individually or attend the May 21 public hearing to share your ideas. Feel free to contact me directly or join the conversation on Facebook.

Thank You, Carrboro!

Many thanks to those of you who took the time to vote in the special election yesterday.

It was ambitious of us to ask people to get excited about an election with a single, uncontested ballot item. But that’s the approach I took to the campaign, and I had a lot of help. Many of you were cheerleaders for me from the beginning, contributed financially to the campaign, and gave your time to make the campaign a success.

In the past few weeks, we reached almost every neighborhood in Carrboro on foot. We completed our door-to-door canvassing even after it became clear there would be no other candidates in the race. I hope we demonstrated to the community that we took the campaign seriously, just as I will take my role as alderperson seriously.

Thank you for your support. I’m looking forward to working with you.

It’s Officially Official

Today I took a lunchtime trip to Hillsborough to file as a candidate in the special election. This weekend you’ll begin to see me and my friendly campaign volunteers knocking on doors throughout Carrboro. Only six weeks remain until the election, and we’re going to canvass our beautiful town in record time. Add March 19 to your calendar today!

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Three Ways to Vote

Carrboro residents have three ways to vote in the upcoming special election. Below is a brief description of your options.

Voting on Election Day

Probably the easiest way to vote is to visit your polling location on Tuesday, March 19. The polls will be open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. Not sure where to vote? Click here to look up your voter information on the Orange County website. You must be a registered voter to vote on Election Day.

Early Voting

If you want to vote early, you can visit the office of the Orange County Board of Elections in beautiful downtown Hillsborough at the following times:

  • Thursday, February 28, 9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Friday, March 1, 9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Mondays through Fridays, March 4–15, 9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Saturday, March 16, 9:00 am–1:00 pm

The Board of Elections is located at 208 S Cameron Street in Hillsborough. During the early voting period, you can register and vote at the same time.

Absentee Voting by Mail

Registered voters have the option to vote by mail. You can request a ballot in person or by mail, e-mail, or fax. The deadline to request a ballot is March 12. The deadline to return the ballot is March 18 (or postmarked by Election Day and received by March 22). Click here for instructions on absentee voting from the Orange County Board of Elections.

It’s Official! Vote March 19

Tonight the Carrboro Board of Aldermen selected March 19 as the date of the special election to fill the vacancy left by Alderman Dan Coleman’s resignation.

As I announced several weeks ago, I will file as a candidate in this special election. I am grateful for and energized by the support many of you have already expressed, and I look forward to a successful campaign. But I will need your help.

Vote. The success of this special winter campaign will come down to votes. If you are a Carrboro voter, please add the special election day, March 19, to your calendar.

Spread the word. Consider putting in a good word for me with your Carrboro friends and neighbors. Learn more about my experience and priorities. You can also like my campaign’s Facebook page at facebook.com/damonseilscarrboro and follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/damonseils, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Volunteer. Can you spend a small amount of time on the campaign? Sign up here. I will especially need volunteers to help distribute flyers in their neighborhoods and to greet voters at the polls.

Make a contribution. If you are able to make a financial contribution to help cover campaign expenses, please go to damonseils.org/donate. I am accepting contributions of up to $100 per person. Any amount you give will be a great help.

As this short campaign progresses, feel free to contact me. I hope I will have the privilege of earning your vote in the next several weeks.