Pittsboro Matters Appeals Chatham Park Construction Ruling
Pittsboro Matters is appealing the Town’s ruling that ongoing roadway and bridge construction work for Chatham Park does not constitute “development activity” and therefore does not require Town Board approval. In a May 5 application for review by the Town’s Board of Adjustments (the first venue for such an appeal), Pittsboro Matters Attorney Robert Hornik challenges the Town’s assertion made in an April 6th letter from Town Attorney Paul Messick that it has no authority whatsoever to regulate roadway construction in Chatham Park, including the Chatham Parkway bypass around Pittsboro, because it is part of the Town’s adopted Comprehensive NC Department of Transportation Plan and it is on private Chatham Park property.
In the review application Pittsboro Matters contends “that the road, driveway and bridge construction work now underway in Chatham Park constitutes development” under the Town’s zoning ordinance and the Chatham Park Master plan” and that “Town Board approval of the development activity was required, but not obtained, prior to commencement of the work.”
Hornik, of the Brough Law Firm in Chapel Hill, filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Superior Court in response to Messick’s April 6 letter rejecting Pittsboro Matters request for a stop-work order on the Chatham Park bridge and road construction underway. Pittsboro Matters asked the court to stop any further development in Chatham Park pending the outcome of its lawsuit challenging Pittsboro’s December 9 approval of a second master plan and rezoning of Chatham Park. The Town had opposed that Motion, arguing (among other things) that the Board of Adjustment, not the court, was the proper venue for review of such issues. The injunction motion was denied by Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan on April 27. Pittsboro Matters has 30 days from that order to file an appeal with the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
“While we also may file an appeal of Judge Bushfan’s order, this action seeking review before the Board of Adjustment is another legal avenue that we can take immediately to challenge the Town’s clearly mistaken position that Chatham Park Investors can build their development and their entire DOT road system without Town approval,” stated Pittsboro Matters Board Chair Amanda Robertson. “We will continue to fight in every legal and policy venue possible to make sure residents of the Pittsboro area get what they have been continually promised – a voice in the review and approval of all aspects of Chatham Park.”
The Board of Adjustment will likely not meet to hear Pittsboro Matters’ appeal before the latter part of June, since the Town zoning ordinance requires three weeks’ notice to the Board of Adjustment and this board only meets as needed.
“Essentially, the Town of Pittsboro has taken the position that construction of driveways, roads, and bridges … in Chatham Park is governed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and that the Town of Pittsboro has no authority whatsoever to regulate the construction,” Hornik explained in his application to the Board of Adjustment.
Pittsboro Matters chair Robertson said, “The Planned Development District and other sections of the zoning ordinance and the Chatham Park PDD Master Plan clearly state that any development in Chatham Park, including roads connecting commercial, office and residential areas of the development, require public hearings, Planning Board review and Town Board site plan approval before road construction, or any development, can begin. The Town Attorney’s latest assertion clearly demonstrates that our elected officials are unwilling or unable to live up to their promise to residents that nothing would be built in Chatham Park without a detailed site plan approval process.”