Voters Choose Strong Leaders to Oversee Chatham Park Decisions
The November 3 municipal elections brought good news for all of us who are concerned about the future of Pittsboro and Chatham Park. Pittsboro voters expressed a clear preference for a new Mayor and three Town Commissioners who have the knowledge, experience and integrity to ensure that Chatham Park is developed in a way that protects everyone who already lives, works and plays here.
The new Mayor and Town Board members are committed to many of the policies and practices that Pittsboro Matters has been advocating from the outset:
- The top vote getter for Pittsboro Town Commissioner was John Bonitz, an environmental policy consultant with 25 years of experience. His family runs Celebrity Dairy, a sustainable farm and bed-and-breakfast in Silk Hope. Bonitz said it was essential to have a strong Town Board committed to working transparently to put the long-term interests of Pittsboro first in any deliberations concerning Chatham Park. He stressed the importance of public input by all stakeholders, including those living and working in town, in the ETJ (extra-territorial planning jurisdiction) and the county. Before seeking office, Bonitz had testified at a public hearing on Chatham Park’s proposed master plan and rezoning supporting improvements to that plan recommended by the Lawrence Group Consultants and Pittsboro Matters
- Voters also re-elected Town Commissioner Bett Wilson Foley, who has consistently spoken out for more parks and the inclusion of conservation areas, as well as for more public oversight of Chatham Park plans. Both Bonitz and Foley have pressed for more details and greater vigilance concerning potential Chatham Park impacts on our public schools, roads, drinking water, affordable neighborhoods and property taxes.
- Also re-elected to the Town Board was Jay Farrell, a well-respected longtime resident, whose family runs Virlie’s Grill in downtown Pittsboro. He has always been concerned about Pittsboro taxpayers and has recommended more citizen engagement in discussions of Chatham Park so that all voices are heard.
- Long-time local attorney and former county planning board member Cindy Perry was elected Mayor in a landslide. She recognizes that voters were worried about the potential impacts of Chatham Park and that people living in the extra-territorial planning area were frustrated that they couldn’t vote in the municipal election. She said she would work to represent all of their interests. Like Foley, she also wants to increase buffers and open space in Chatham Park and to ensure that the development provides affordable housing so that Pittsboro remains a vibrant place for working people.
Incumbent Mayor Bill Terry ran for a seat on the Town Board, but missed getting elected by just 41 votes. We want to thank Mayor Terry for his courageous and principled efforts over the past two years in speaking out forcefully on behalf of putting the interests of the town and residents before the financial interests of Chatham Park.
We look forward to engaging the new Mayor and the Town Board in public discussions of Chatham Park’s small area plans and development agreement. We will encourage the new Town Board to appoint a public advisory committee representing all stakeholders, including citizen advocates from the Town and the ETJ (extra-territorial planning jurisdiction).