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Harvesting the facts in Carrboro

Mark Chilton

Residents keep asking me: Could it be true? Could the home of the area’s best farmers’ market be out to destroy the few remaining farms in its jurisdiction? Of course, the answer is a resounding “No!” As mayor, I am highly committed to local farming and, as I told a group of farmers last month, my door is open to them any time.

The board of aldermen and I have helped the farmers’ market expand, worked with Agricultural Extension to be more responsive to farmers and helped create the Carrboro Community Garden. I have also implemented a program for kids to learn healthy eating habits by growing their own vegetables. Currently, I am working to make in-town farming easier and advocating to conserve farms in the Northern Transition Area. I’ve never publicized these things, but a politically motivated disinformation campaign compels me to speak up.

This all started with Ms. Marilyn Kille, who presented town inspectors with plans for a workshop, but instead surreptitiously built a rental apartment. Most folks who want to build an apartment would get the proper building permit, get the appropriate land-use permit, have the residence inspected, pay the school impact fee and pay the proper tax bill. But Ms. Kille did none of that; instead, she built a workshop and covertly converted it into an apartment.

A while back, the town received a complaint about Ms. Kille’s property and began enforcement proceedings to have the property brought into compliance. But Ms. Kille refused to comply.

Eventually, the Orange County courts found Ms. Kille in violation of the Carrboro Land Use Ordinance and ordered her to come into compliance. But she defies the court order. Worse yet, Ms. Kille recently came to the Carrboro Planning Department and allegedly altered documents in her file, attempting to fabricate evidence. So she now faces criminal charges for altering public documents as well.

Ms. Kille’s explanation for her behavior is to attack the town as purportedly “anti-farm.” Her cause has been taken up by Sharon Cook, an unsuccessful alderman candidate from 2007. The two of them have succeeded in making a lot of sound and fury.

You may have seen Ms. Kille collecting petition signatures in front of the farmers’ market. She will tell you all about the importance of caretaker apartments on farms, but she won’t tell you that her apartment was built illegally in the University Lake watershed. She won’t tell you that her apartment is an investment, not a “caretaker” apartment. She won’t tell you that her proposal is to allow even more new apartments in the watershed — resulting in more septic systems, automobiles and parking lots draining into your water supply. She won’t tell you that any farm in Carrboro’s jurisdiction can build a caretaker apartment — as long as it doesn’t drain into University Lake.

Ms. Cook and Ms. Kille continually disparage the town in the newspapers, claiming Carrboro is “anti-farm.” Let’s be clear: This campaign has been fabricated to justify Ms. Kille’s actions and to provide Ms. Cook with campaign fodder for her next campaign. It weaves together half-truths, omissions and disinformation to confuse the people of Carrboro. Cook’s recent quotes and letter to the editor had so many errors of fact and implication that it warranted correction by the town attorney. And Ms. Kille’s fabrications have gotten to the point of her having to face the district attorney.

I want you to know the truth. Having grown up on my family’s farm, I am 100 percent pro-farm. The board of aldermen and I have worked on lots of pro-farming issues:

• changing the animal-control ordinance to make farming in town easier;
• conserving farmland in the Northern Transition Area;
• extending hours and parking for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market;
• allowing the Carrboro Community Garden to use MLK park;
• partnering with Cooperative Extension to get farmer input and;
• teaching kids healthy eating through growing their own vegetables

Let me close by saying to the farmers in and near Carrboro: The board of aldermen and I appreciate and value your work. If you have a problem, please call me on my cell phone at 636-0371. The aldermen will be meeting June 16 at 7:30 at Town Hall to discuss farming issues further. Let us know your needs and concerns. We’ll do our best to support your farms.

Mark Chilton is mayor of the Town of Carrboro.

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  1. marilyn kille

    Shame on The Carrboro Citizen! Shame on Mark Chilton!

    Any doubt about whether Carrboro’s recent loan to The Carrboro Citizen would bias it by enabling pandering to the town’s leadership was surely set to rest by your decision to disregard, as its editor, objectivity and professionalism when you decided to publish Mr. Chilton’s June 11th “Opinion” piece. Great timing, too, with his re-election announcement slated to be confirmed on June 16th along with his erroneous claim to support the ETJ farmers.!

    About two months ago you committed to researching the facts — to finding the truth — to being objective — before reporting further on this matter. You’ve now lost my respect and that of a host of other local readers.

    But the questions from the beginning remain:

    What happened to the final inspection documents?
    Why do daily Inspection Logs remain for 1998 and other years but not for 1997?
    Why is there not only one Permit (as with all other contractors) but two issued in Oct. 1997 for work by Hillsborough Plumbing? And,
    Why is there no record of a final inspection for either of the Hillsborough Plumbing permits that were issued?

    As I’ve said from the beginning, something smells! The true final inspection of my barn ocurred on/about Dec. 15, 1997, conducted by Donnie Williams with HP owner, Gary Riggs, and not on Dec. 1 by former inspector Don Knight with Carlin Electric!

    And, even if the final inspection had occurred on Dec. 1, as Carrboro has alleged, how does the town justify its claim that no bathroom permit was isued or inspection conducted when the bathroom (and kitchen) plumbing was embedded in concrete not later than Oct. 31, 1997 as the photos and records prove.

    Thus, by law, the bathroom existed and would have been inspected during the town’s alleged final inspection on Dec. 1, 1997.

    Were both inspectors blind on Dec. 1, 1997? Did they simply “forget” that, once a Permit is issued, the law requires a final inspection of the permitted project!

    And since this can be demonstrated, there should be no reason “why?” Carrboro is insisting on applying the 2009 Residential Code to the bathroom.

    Furthermore, the Dept. of Insurance has taken the position that, in the absence of final inspection and CO docs, the activation of public utilities (PSNC, PEMC) should document the completion date and applicable code year. As on Nov. 28 and Dec. 3, 1997 respectively.

    As regards farming, Carrboro has had 21 years in which to implement a Farm Code and has failed to do so. WHY?

    And “Why? at that time did Carrboro NOT grant “voting rights” to ETJ land owners. This was allowed when the State gave its leadership this option in conjunction with transferring development jurisidiction to municipalities?

    When you again practice professional journalism, you’ll likely learn the truth! Let’s hope you and TCC have the courage to report it before irreversible harm has been brought to bear.

    Regarding Mr. Chilton’s claim that he initiated partnering with Co-Operative Extension, it was I invited Karen McAdams into recent discussions of the fertilizer restrictions amendment and farm code — and NOT Mr. Chilton or any other town official. And reportedly, although she offered to assist, Carrboro officials have failed to involve her since.

    Regarding Chilton’s claim about The Carrboro Farmer’s Market, no ETJ/watershed legal farm owner sells produce reportedly at this venue. It’s all about supporting Alamance and Chatham County farms, among others.

    Great venue but doesn’t do anything to help Carrboro’s farms.

  2. John Kramer PE

    This is outrageous. For the Mayor of a town to accuse a resident of his town as being “surreptitious”. This does not belong in the local newspaper. How crass.

    So, is our Mayor fit to be reelected based on this sort of hateful diatribe? I think not.

    I think there is a deeper story here, that has raised the hackles of those in power, such as mayor Chilton.

    Maybe we will read about it a local paper sometime. I remember reading about someone wanting to develop property in that area, and Ms. Kille being in the way of that development.

    Is this true or false? Maybe one of the local papers will dig deeper on this, I sure hope so.

    Meantime, shame on the Mayor of Carrboro for such a terrible public attack, be it true or false.

    No class at all. Ugh.