Three Strikes and You’re Out!
Three strikes normally means you’re out…
But we’re willing to give Pittsboro a fourth strike
to get the Chatham Park master plan right.
Three strikes and you’re out! At least that’s how it works on the baseball diamond. But it’s not how it works for Chatham Park Investors as they have been able to repeatedly ram through approval by the Pittsboro Town Board majority of their “blank slate” master plan for Chatham Park.
This Monday evening’s public hearing on the third version of the master plan will be the fourth time that Chatham Park Investors (CPI) have come before the town for either a revised master plan or Planned Development District (PDD) ordinance that authorizes a proposed master plan for Chatham Park under the town’s zoning ordinance. The hearing will be held at 7 pm in the Town Government Building (across from Food Lion) as part of their regularly scheduled meeting.
While it may seem futile to again speak at another public hearing on Chatham Park given that the town board majority has ignored nearly unanimous citizen opposition to the proposed piecemeal development plan at previous public hearings, it is important to bear witness against the destruction of our environment and quality of life here in Pittsboro. That’s what is at stake with this master plan.
It is also important to speak so that voters in Pittsboro are aware of the continued strong opposition to the existing master plan for Chatham Park. Particularly given there will be an election this November for three seats on the town board that would represent a majority, including that of Bett Wilson Foley, who has consistently provided the lone vote against the proposed master plan and rezoning.
Each time CPI has come back for a revision of the master plan or PDD, it is because Pittsboro Matters’ lawsuit forced the town to publicly admit it had failed to follow proper local and state land use procedures for review and approval of zoning changes. Moreover, the first revised master plan approved last December also included one significant substantive change – requiring changes in the manner in which additional plan elements of a final master plan are approved (e.g. transit, affordable housing, facilities, lighting, phasing, landscaping, open space, tree protection), as well as the development agreement between the town and CPI.
Of course, as was true with the public hearing for the first revision to the master plan, the town board has an opportunity to revise it to include protections and improvements to the plan that Pittsboro Matters and the majority of citizens in the town have been requesting. This third version of the master plan is identical to the second version with the exception that CPI has given itself until December 8, 2016 to submit proposed new plan elements for the final master plan and a proposed development agreement.
For those wishing to speak on what is missing from their plan, the new plan contains:
- No provisions for addressing potential negative impacts on air, drinking water, the Haw River, Jordan Lake, roads, schools, taxes, and the historic downtown.
- No requirement to set aside at least 30% for a natural conservation area, as recommended by the Southwest Shore Environmental Assessment Study and the Lawrence Group.
- No commitment to donate land for schools or to help finance school construction.
- Permission for 5-story buildings in residential areas; 8-story in mixed-use, commercial and office areas, or higher with Town approval.
- Very little acreage reserved for parks, recreation and open space.
So one more time, please come, bear witness and provide input to give the town board another opportunity to finally get it right. Remember, what eventually gets approved for Chatham Park will determine our town’s fate for generations. You may speak at the hearing on any aspect of the plan, mail or email written comments. Please send a copy of all comments to the Town Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in the public record. Contact information for the Mayor, Town Board and Planning Board can be found on the town’s website. We suggest you also send a copy of your comments to our county commissioners.