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Carrboro Plan Aims to Control Congestion

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CARRBORO — A population explosion, a building boom, then traffic congestion. Lots of communities in our state are facing headaches caused by growth. One Orange County town is facing them head-on.

Carrboro wants to control suburban sprawl and preserve its small town feel -- not an easy task for town leaders.

The town's new sprawl control measure took seven years to hammer out. But town leaders believe the plan will work by limiting dense development to just a few parts of town.

The sprawl control law covers an undeveloped, four square mile zone just north of town.

"If we don't do anything we know what it will look like," says Carrboro Alderman Allen Spalt. " It will look like the rest of the Triangle. And Carrboro doesn't want that."

The area will have concentrated residential and commercial development in no more than three villages. Developers can build traditional subdivisions outside the villages.

"But it will be less dense than what it would be otherwise to preserve a maximum amount of open space," explains Spalt.

People in the development industry believe they can adapt to the changes. But they say Carrboro's extra requirements in this zone could make the homes there more expensive.

"Well, when you start having your factors, such as a 40 percent open space requirement and certain architectural guidelines that are being recommended in this situation, it puts a cost factor into the overall planning process. Ultimately the consumer is the person who pays the price," says Paul Milan, new homes sales director."

As far as how much those home prices could go up, the people WRAL spoke with would not venture to guess.

There are other changes that could increase up the cost even more. This fall Carrboro leaders will hammer out certain design standards that must be met.

Carrboro is not the only Triangle community trying to get a handle on growth. The town of Apex is also trying to get a handle on growth. Its population has nearly tripled this decade. Until a development plan is hammered out.. town leaders have halted new residential permits for six months.

Sprawl has become so bad in our state that a group in western North Carolina has even launched an ad campaign against it.