Chatham Park Ditches Public Schools
County officials were shocked to learn this month that Chatham Park Investors (CPI) is now claiming it won’t need any new public schools in the near future for what will become the largest mixed-use development in NC history. That’s absurd and alarming.
When asked for its best estimate of future public school needs, CPI told state and county school planning researchers that it would rely primarily on private institutions for now. CPI apparently expects a Catholic K-12 school and two others for elementary and middle school grades to serve Chatham Park families for at least the short-term. Developers provided no further details to substantiate this claim.
This news raised alarms for county officials who estimate that Chatham Park alone will more than double the county’s school-age population over the next 30 years. Clearly thousands of new Chatham Park students will want to, or need to, attend public schools instead of religious or private institutions. Yet, CPI has made no commitment to provide land or financial support for the construction of new public schools, as other large developments have had to do. For example, Briar Chapel, with only 2,400 residences, was required to donate land for two public schools. At that rate, Chatham Park, which will have 22,000 residences, should be required to donate land for at least 18 public schools.
The Chatham Park master plan anticipates that the development could eventually need at least 12 additional public schools for nearly 10,000 students. Without requiring a large developer like Chatham Park to donate land for public schools and begin planning for them immediately, the entire cost of building and maintaining those schools will fall on Chatham County taxpayers.
We’re appalled, but not really surprised, that CPI has virtually no public schools plan. They also don’t have substantive plans to address affordable housing, transportation, water and sewer, environmental protection, police protection, forest conservation, parks and recreation, and other public services.
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Our lawsuit is the only option for delaying further Chatham Park development until CPI agrees to do the right thing by addressing schools and other basic needs. Your donation gets you official membership in Pittsboro Matters and will make a difference as we work together for the public interests at stake in Chatham Park, Pittsboro and the greater community. You may give now online, or send a check to: Pittsboro Matters, PO Box 1001, Pittsboro NC 27312.