Published: Jan 19, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 19, 2013 05:06 PM
CARRBORO - Johnny’s, a Carrboro mainstay since the 1940s, appears here to stay.
Heated discussions about rezoning the property at 901 W. Main St. are closer to resolved after management and neighbors reached a compromise the Board of Aldermen approved Tuesday night.
The board canceled the public hearing required for a rezoning application, which property owner Jan Halle says she plans to pull.
Development Review Administrator Marty Roupe said a new zoning permit outlining the terms and approved by the planning department will formalize the agreement.
Carley Walker, who lives in the Westview neighborhood next to Johnny’s, said she is thrilled.
“I just never dreamed six months ago we would be at such a good place,” she said.
Johnny’s new manager, Susan Siplon, said the decision to not rezone helped both groups reach agreement.
“We really didn’t need to go back to the bar scene to make it a successful country general store,” Siplon said.
The agreement prohibits onsite alcohol consumption except for two wine and beer tastings per month.
Three seasonal outdoor events with non-amplified music will be allowed per year, along with three indoor promotional events per month.
The food trucks and farmers’ market outside the store will continue, in addition to the traditional sale of Christmas trees during the holidays.Controversial rezoning
The possibility of rezoning arose after former Johnny’s manager Brian Plaster sold the business in 2011.
Under Plaster, some residents in the Westview neighborhood became concerned about outdoor music and drinking.
Roger Robinson’s daughter Katie has autism and lives in Carrboro Residential Services, an adult home close to Johnny’s.
“It was noise and outside drinking on the premises that was our biggest concern, and that is now off the table,” Robinson said. “It is a matter of balance, and we hope the balance has been struck.”
Johnny’s was grandfathered into the residential area, meaning it was allowed to operate as a business amid homes. After Plaster left, Halle suggested rezoning the property to a business designation to officially allow onsite drinking and live music.
A group of neighbors started a petition against the rezoning.
Walker, who supported the petition, said she worked in the beer business for 10 years but opposed drinking at the neighborhood store.
“I just don’t think on-premise consumption was suitable for the location at Johnny’s.”New management
The management at Johnny’s in Carrboro has changed hands several times since it first opened as Bill and Tillman’s nearly eight decades ago.
After Plaster sold the business, Halle, Erica Eisdorfer and Kevin Morgan formed Johnny’s Gone Fishing in late 2011.
The plan was to dissolve this business and usher in a new LLC called Johnny’s 3.0 with Morgan, his son Duncan and Megan Truesdell as managers.
But this new business was never established because the Duncans and Truesdell decided to leave Johnny’s in December 2012.
Despite the recent management changes, Siplon said she is moving forward.
She said she is focusing on building Johnny’s inventory with local products from local vendors to give the store an indoor farmers’ market feel.
“I want Johnny’s to be a local gathering spot where you can met with friends and get coffee and have that fun town atmosphere,” she said.
“We challenge the community to support the business as it’s good for our neighborhood.”