Published: Oct 06, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 09, 2012 03:20 PM
CARRBORO - The managers at Johnnys on West Main Street will keep an application to rezone the property for now, unless town staff can find a way for the store to pursue its business plan without rezoning.
Planning Director Trish McGuire said department staff are still reviewing zoning districts in connection with Johnnys business plan.
I understood they would withdraw the application so long as they were able to do what they wanted on the property, McGuire said.
Johnnys, which sits in a residential zone, applied earlier this year to have its property rezoned as a B-1(g) (General Business) zoning district.
Co-manager Meghan Truesdell said the store needs the rezoning to have events, like karaoke nights, movie screenings and outdoor craft markets.
She said they will keep the application because starting over with a new application would make the process more time consuming and expensive. But they are looking into other zoning districts that would have less impact on their neighbors, such as a B-3 neighborhood business zoning district.
Grocery stores, branch banks, gas sales, and small commercial and office properties are examples of some uses under the B-3 zoning district, according to the towns Land Use Ordinance.
After Johnnys had wine tastings Aug. 16 and Sept. 5, the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission suspended the stores wine tasting license due to complaints from the neighbors.
Were not trying to be a bar or nightclub, Truesdell said. There is a lot of misinformation about what we are trying to be.
Johnnys was grandfathered in as a retail store, referred to by the town as legally nonconforming retail use. For many years, Johnnys served as a bait and tackle shop and local grocery store that also sold beer and wine for off-site consumption.
When Brian Plaster bought the store in 2007, it had outdoor live music and allowed onsite drinking, which bothered some neighbors.
After Plaster sold Johnnys in 2011, several residents in the Westview Drive neighborhood composed a petition against potentially rezoning the property that now has more than 100 signatures.
Complaints have gotten the Carrboro Board of Aldermen involved.
At Tuesdays meeting, the board discussed using mediation to help the managers and nearby residents come to an agreement about the issues.
The board asked Town Manager David Andrews to meet with the Dispute Settlement Center in Carrboro to determine the cost of setting up a formal mediation by the town.
Duncan Morgan, Johnnys co-manager, and Truesdell said they would participate in mediation but arent sure its needed.
We dont necessarily need to spend taxpayer money to have mediation, Truesdell said, adding that neighbors should approach her and Morgan directly if they have concerns.
The neighbors in opposition have also said they would engage in mediation sponsored by the town.
Mayor Mark Chilton said the mediation should try to involve a larger cross-section of the town, not just the neighborhood residents and stores managers.
There are many aspects of this situation that are not merely a neighborhood concern, he said. Many residents in the town have interest in outcome of issue.