Published: Nov 17, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Nov 17, 2012 06:29 PM
CARRBORO - The property owner of Johnny’s coffee shop and cafe on West Main Street has asked the town to postpone a public hearing on her rezoning application while she and some of the store’s neighbors try to work out their differences.
The town agreed to postpone the public hearing, which had been scheduled for Nov. 27, until Jan. 29, 2013, to give owner Jan Halle more time for negotiations with those neighbors who oppose the store’s proposed rezoning from residential to general business use.
“We want to find a mutually satisfying agreement with the neighbors,” Halle said.
Johnny’s, which was formerly a bait and tackle shop, predated the town’s zoning classifications and was grandfathered in to the residential area as a retail store.
The rezoning would allow activities on the property other than retail sales, including indoor and outdoor acoustic music, farm and craft markets, flea markets and produce markets.
Halle, of Gusanos and Worms Inc., purchased the property in 2007 from Johnny Howard, who had owned the bait and tackle shop since 1978. While Halle owns the property, Brian Plaster opened and owned the retail business on the site from 2007 to 2011, during which time neighbors took issue with live music events, crowded parking and customers drinking alcohol onsite.
Tina Salvana lives with her family at 200 Westview Drive, a neighborhood located adjacent to Johnny’s. She organized a petition in November 2011 in opposition to Johnny’s proposed rezoning, and has gathered about 100 signatures.
Salvana said she is worried the rezoning could bring back the noise and crowd problems that occurred when Halle purchased the property and worked with Plaster, who owned the business.
Salvana and four other neighbors met with Halle on Nov. 9 in Town Hall to find common ground, but Halle didn’t change her mind about pursuing rezoning.
“I think there is common ground,” said Salvana. “But they don’t think it is enough to make a profit on.”
In past board meetings, the Aldermen discussed the possibility of arranging a formal mediation between neighborhood representatives and Johnny’s management through the Dispute Settlement Center in Carrboro.
But Halle said she is no longer considering town-sponsored mediation because the two groups decided to meet on their own.
Town-sponsored mediation came up again on Tuesday as Alderwoman Jacqueline Gist stressed the benefits of facilitated negotiations.
“[Mediation] is like surgery instead of medication,” Gist said. “It has a time and a place, and it needs to be done right.”
Mayor Mark Chilton asked the board to decide how much the town would be willing to pay for town-sponsored mediation, which could cost up to $8,000.
On Tuesday, the board passed a motion to budget up to $2,000 for town-sponsored mediation in the event that the two parties involved are unable to come up with a resolution by Jan. 2.