By Kylie Marsh
Tuesday night’s Carrboro Town Council meeting centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before briefly touching on a town budget update and ending with recommendations from the town’s Community Safety Task Force.
The night’s agenda included a resolution by council member Sammy Slade calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and asking the United States government to facilitate humanitarian aid to the region. The conflict between Hamas and the Israeli government has claimed 12,000 Palestinians in a collective punishment order, following a Hamas attack that took the lives of 1,200 people, many of whom were the occupying government’s military personnel.
Public comment on the ceasefire resolution overwhelmingly included support from a diverse range of community members.
“The relentless and retaliatory siege will not resurrect the 1,200 Israelis murdered on October 7,” one UNC student said. “History will not be kind to your moral cowardice.”
Another community member stated that the Hamas attack on October 7 is “like our Jewish 9/11.”
Council member Susan Romaine expressed concern that the council’s resolution would cause some community members to feel unwelcome. Council member Barbara Foushee echoed this sentiment, stating that not all voices are heard in the language of Slade’s resolution.
“The issue is complex and divisive,” she said. Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell agreed, stating the resolution does not include explicit naming of Hamas, nor does it mention the Israeli hostages taken on October 7 who are still missing.
Council member Eliazar Posada stated he would support the resolution, despite calling it imperfect.
The resolution passed 4-3.
Next, Town Development Review Administrator Marty Roupe informed the council that the town staff evaluated the Newbury Architecturally Integrated Subdivision, a proposed multi-family development at 904 Homestead Road. They found the plans need to meet the Carrboro Connects Comprehensive Plan goals of having at least 15 percent affordable units.
The developer, Omar Zinn, told the council that the parcel is triangular, making it more of a challenge to fit units into the space. He made three suggestions to the council for incentivizing developers to meet the 15 percent affordable units in new developments: first is changing zoning to offer vertical multi-family units; second is offering bonuses for more density; third is “micro-housing,” or allowing tiny houses.
Langston Ramseur, interim finance director of the Town of Carrboro, presented an update on the Town’s FY ’23 budget for the first quarter. For the most part, town expenses are on track with what they were in FY ’22. This year, the town has made $3 million in revenue, compared to $2.6 million last year.
Last, the town’s Community Safety Task Force presented their recommendations for a holistic approach to community safety. Using phone banks, the task force surveyed community members in Carrboro and canvassed historically Black neighborhoods. They found candidates do desire alternatives to policing, as well as police reform. Modeled after neighboring Durham’s HEART program, Orange County’s Street Outreach Harm Reduction and Deflection program, and Chapel Hill’s Crisis Unit, the task force recommended a non-armed, non-carceral agency or standing board to field calls for service.
Ultimately, the task force told the council that housing is the nexus of concerns for some community members, who see unhoused people as being unsafe. The task force urged the council to consider that when making future policy decisions.
A former TLR correspondent from Durham, Kylie Marsh returns to writing for the paper, albeit from new digs in Charlotte. Her work has also appeared in QCity Metro. As a graduate of NYU, she writes about local issues of class, race and inequality. When not freelancing, Kylie is organizing for the rights of workers, women and the homeless in Charlotte.