I want to thank the Chapel Hill News for its balanced editorial on Johnny’s in Carrboro. I have lived very near Johnny’s for the last five years and think it’s fairly clear that the vast majority of the neighborhood supports some accommodation.
The essence of the zoning change request is to allow on-site consumption of alcohol and acoustic music until 9 p.m. or so. To me, that is not seeking to “make Johnny’s a night spot” as Melanie Cecil stated in her Sept. 26 column. That is seeking to make it more of a community gathering place where people can bring their families and enjoy a beer or glass of wine after work or with their tacos on a Saturday or Sunday evening.
Ms. Cecil also makes broad and unsupported statements about “spot zoning,” implying that rezoning Johnny’s would benefit that property “at the expense of all the other property owners” in the area. There is no factual basis for that statement, and I don’t think it’s an accurate use of the term “spot zoning.” Regardless, in my view zoning regulations are the vehicle for setting parameters that a community wants while ensuring certain health and safety standards. That does not mean trampling on the rights of minority interests, but it also does not mean that zoning ordinances should be stagnant simply because a minority interest opposes change.
More broadly, I believe that much of the suburbanization and “mollification” in this country is the result of overly generic and restrictive zoning policies that are too extreme in separating residences from commerce. I don’t think most Carrboro citizens, or most of the neighbors around Johnny’s, share that philosophy.
I imagine all of us can agree that Carrboro is a living, thriving, changing community. And I think most of us agree that a reasonable rezoning of Johnny’s would fit into the philosophy that helps make Carrboro unique. David Beck CarrboroReasonablelimitations
I am writing about the kerfuffle in Carrboro over the proposed changes at Johnny’s. My impression is that no one is listening to anyone else and the result is a lot of unnecessary bad feelings.
The problems began a couple of years ago when Johnny’s started having quite successful evening outside “events” with music, which drew about 100 people. It also drew many too many cars for the quiet residential area with a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. Cars spilled out onto both sides of Westview Street, often blocking residents and leaving no possibility for emergency vehicles to access the area if needed.
As the parent of a daughter with autism who has been a resident of Carrboro House for six years, this situation was not tolerable. However, due to changes in the ownership of Johnny’s things subsided for several months. Then we learned that the owner of Johnny’s had applied for spot rezoning to permit alcohol to be consumed on site, thus returning to the high noise and traffic/parking chaos with the addition of alcohol.
Johnny’s as a grocery store that sold wine and beer to be drunk off premises and then as a coffee shop was a wonderful part of Carrboro life. The new owners of the business, not the owner of the property, are making creative changes that have drawn more people to Johnny’s for coffee and pastries and Wifi. It looks better than it has in years. Our daughter goes over there once in a while for coffee or sweets with one of her staff. It is a wonderful and evolving Carrboro institution.
Those of us who are against rezoning and on site alcohol consumption are NOT against Johnny’s. We are just asking those who say that they “love” Johnny’s to accept the reasonable limitations to what is possible, given the particular spot, without violating the rights and safety of its long time neighbors. My impression of Carrboro is of a community that is compassionate and intelligent, albeit really cool. Please don’t let the “cool/fun” side override the caring/intelligent side. There is much that they can do to make Johnny’s into an even greater place....acoustic music inside, art and craft shows, occasional events that are realistically designed to be accommodated within the confines of the property. Please let’s support Johnny’s new incarnation in a way that respects us all. Genie Gatens-RobinsonSilence is not healthy
I am Bisharah Libbus, Lebanese-American, and have been residing in Chapel Hill for over 22 years. The Town Council in Chapel Hill is considering a ban on political ads. It appears to me that there are three issues here. One concerns the poster that was displayed on Chapel Hill buses (with two grandfathers and their grandchildren pleading for a just peace in Israel/Palestine). Second, the reaction to the ad. Third, assuring democratic public space to continue and expand these conversations. I would like to address these three points.
The poster calls for ending U.S. military aid to Israel. This is primarily about our policies and us. It only secondarily touches on Israel. This poster is similar to ads placed in many towns and cities around the country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. It doesn’t appear to be “false, misleading, deceptive, disrespectful, or obscene” which will disqualify it. In fact it aims to open up the question of how we spend our resources (human, political and financial). It implies a call for investing in peace and justice rather in weapons and war.
Some saw in the poster issues of freedom of expression. Others were offended. Chapel Hill Council member Penny Rich very gently explained that the town has to “understand the strong bond Jewish people have with Israel.” I respect Ms. Rich’s concern and attachment to Israel. But there is another voice in Judaism that cries, along with prophet Micah, “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) This call for justice and mercy resonates with many people, Jewish and Non-Jewish, and is particularly needed in our day. Calling for peace and justice, for understanding and accommodation. This permits Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindu, agnostic and non-religious people to come together as members of a community that supports life and peace (shalom/salaam).
The range of public debates we see in Israel is magnitudes more than is permitted here in the U.S. This timidity, or silence, is neither healthy nor helpful to either the U.S. or Israel. The military aid we provide Israel is substantial. It goes against U.S. law as the weapons have been used extensively against civilians. Furthermore, this aid permits actions that defy international law.
Every time we take the pledge of allegiance we commit ourselves to “Justice and Liberty for ALL.” I am pleading, along with many of my Chapel Hill neighbors and our elected City Council members, not to muzzle an attempt to open a slight crack in the wall of silence that surrounds our actions and policies in the Middle East. Bisharah Libbus Chapel Hill
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