Published: Dec 10, 2012 01:07 PM
Modified: Dec 10, 2012 01:08 PM
CARRBORO - The controversy over rezoning Johnny’s in Carrboro could be avoided if the town approves a new option endorsed by some neighbors and the property owner, Jan Halle.
The new proposal comes as the current managers of the store and coffee shop – Kevin Morgan, son Duncan Morgan and Meghan Truesdell – announced their departure from the business at 901 W. Main Street.
Truesdell said Halle declined her offer to purchase the building. The Morgans and Truesdell plan to leave on Dec. 15, she said.
“This makes us really sad because we love this community and this neighborhood,” she said.
But they worried about compromising the Johnny’s they built, if Halle ever sold the property, she said.
Johnny’s was grandfathered into a residential neighborhood as a retail store, but Halle applied to rezone the property in March to allow for onsite drinking and outside music events.
Tina Saldana, who lives in the neighborhood adjacent to Johnny’s, circulated a petition last year against the rezoning that gained more than 100 signatures.
Saldana and her husband John Montavon, have argued that spot rezoning the property to a general business designation would disrupt the residents, some of whom don’t want to see outside drinking and an influx of cars crowding the small streets.
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen discussed the possibility of town-sponsored mediation to help thegroups come to an agreement.
But Saldana said she and Halle met recently to establish specific uses for the property that both parties could agree on.
“Our goal is to have clearer guidelines for the business so it can promote its business but not be too big for the neighborhood,” Saldana said in an email.
The proposed new guidelines would limit inside wine or beer tastings to two per month and three outside seasonal events per year, allowing only non-amplified acoustic music and notification to the neighbors. Farmers’ stands, food trucks, Christmas trees sales and artisan tables would be allowed, but the sales of alcohol for onsite consumption would be prohibited.
Town staff will review the proposal to determine whether it is consistent with the Land Use Ordinance.
Some members of the Board of Aldermen said they were inclined to favor the agreement.
“If after years of controversy and tension, if the neighbors and owners have come to some sort of agreement we should honor that,” said Alderwoman Jacquelyn Gist.
The public hearing for the rezoning was scheduled for Jan. 29, but the board rescheduled it to February to allow staff to review the new agreement.
Susan Siplon, who works at the business, will be as the new manager.
“We have been communicating closely with the neighbors and have developed a very friendly plan that will be advantageous to both the community and to Johnny’s,” Siplon said in an email to Town Manager David Andrews.
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