Why Chatham Park doesn’t care what citizens want… Money!
If you attended the Public Hearing on Monday night, you got to hear Mike Watkins’ powerful words to the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners in person. It resulted in resounding applause and cheers from the audience. We wanted to share it here for those who missed it, or just wanted to read again. With his permission:
Let say you buy an acre of land for 10-12 thousand dollars. Then you have it rezoned to be more developer friendly. That acre is now worth a little more – maybe even twice what you paid for it.
But… spend another 15 or 20 thousand to put in water, sewer and a road. Doesn’t take long. What’s that acre worth now? By Briar Chapel standards, anywhere from 100 to 270 thousand – and we haven’t built a home, office block, or even a hospital.
Now apply the same principle to over 7,000 acres. That is a truly awesome profit model – a model tried and tested over time by Preston Development.
In 2007, when Preston took control of the planned River Oaks community from Toll Brothers, the Triangle Business Journal commented “Preston usually builds water and sewer infrastructure and roads and then sells the parcels to other commercial and residential builders.”
Making profit’s good but not when what remains behind is not the promised coordinated, master planned community of exceptional design and innovation but, thanks to a PDD rezoning, an almost entirely deregulated developer free-for-all across 27 different sites – each one going to the highest bidder.
Why is the Master plan so vague with zero citizen input?
Why wave every major decision down to the Site Plan Level?
Why is their population growth projection 3 times higher than others?
Why insist on an initial 2 years of virtually unconstrained development?
Perhaps to put just enough infrastructure in place to maximize both acreage and appeal for those prospective bidders?
Will these bidders set aside large, contiguous spaces as natural conservation areas? At $100K/acre?
Are the new owners going to give up space for schools or an inch they don’t have to for stream buffers?
Are storm-water and erosion measures or transition boundary setbacks going to be any better than the absolute minimum required?
At $100 thousand an acre? I would imagine not! That’s why they have to be locked in to the PDD Master Plan.
Does this version fix that? …Sorry, no!
A new, final paragraph of the plan explicitly paves the way to sell us out by adding… “As used herein, the word “Applicant” includes Chatham Park Investors LLC and its successors and assigns, including successor owners of Chatham Park PDD or applicable portions thereof.”
Commissioners –please rethink the Chatham Park PDD. Despite what they may have threatened, they’re not going anywhere until that fabulous profit model starts to kick in. Then… they may well be harder to find!