To the Chatham County Board of Commissioners
Letter from Pittsboro Matters
As you are likely aware, Pittsboro Matters is a grass-roots organization formed 18 months ago by local citizens. These citizens were concerned about the Chatham Park development and the lack of process and required protections by Pittsboro Commissioners on behalf of town and ETJ – county – residents who would be impacted by this enormous development. Since the town board’s approval of the development, Pittsboro Matters has filed suit against the town – twice now – on behalf of many hundreds of its members and constituents in response to their blatant violation of their own Land Use Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and their disregard for equal protection and substantive due process for all ETJ and town citizens, among many other claims.
I am here tonight to request that you, our elected county officials, please step in and do what is in your power to protect your citizens and our beloved community: To improve this plan and hold the Pittsboro Town Board accountable in providing basic protections for county citizens, town businesses, schools and the environment. Pittsboro Matters hereby makes the following requests of this board:
- Request that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers require an EIS before Issuing Permits
As you are aware, Pittsboro Matters, through attorney John Runkle and in partnership with the Haw River Assembly, Rocky River Heritage Foundation, Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities, and the Orange/Chatham Group of the Sierra Club, has recently requested the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers require a valid, comprehensive environmental analysis of the Chatham Park development before issuing any water quality permits for Chatham Park. We hope you will request the same.
- Require that Water Allocations from Jordan Lake Meet 21st Century Realities
Take steps to ensure that the expected allocation of over 4 million gallons per day (MGD) for Chatham Park is part of a total water allocation for our county and region that acknowledges the severe threats posed by climate change and future droughts. The total drinking water supply allocation from Jordan Lake is 100 MGD, with 63 MGD already allocated. The calculations supporting this allocation, however, ignore climate change and the high probability that droughts will become more severe and more common in the future. As such, the full allocation of 100 MGD could result in Jordan Lake being drained to the point where wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values will be severely damaged.
- Request and Create a Bilateral Agreement for a Joint Planning Jurisdiction Covering the ETJ of Pittsboro
Similar to the joint planning jurisdiction agreement between Chatham County and the Town of Cary, a joint comprehensive land-use plan could become a guiding document for developing a joint land-use ordinance to protect natural resources, including water bodies, steep slopes, critical habitats, natural heritage areas, and highly erodible soils. Such an ordinance could result in strong environmental protections, and also address traffic, affordable housing, and other aspects of new development, such as schools, libraries, courts, social services, etc., that will be paid by county taxpayers who have no say in the town’s current planning approval processes.
- Approve Appointments of Pittsboro ETJ Residents to the Pittsboro Planning Board
Appointments of residents to the Pittsboro Planning Board who live in the Pittsboro ETJ are required by state statute to be approved by Chatham County. By insuring this requirement is observed, residents of the ETJ who are being impacted by Chatham Park will have some measure of representation to protect their interests.
- Take Back Zoning Jurisdiction over Chatham Park ETJ Lands
As is provided by North Carolina statutes, Chatham County can initiate procedures to take back, under Chatham County Jurisdiction, those ETJ land areas granted to the Town of Pittsboro in 1989 and 2013 (Local Bill Chapter 415, HG 804, 1989). The 1989 grant extended Pittsboro’s extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) to encompass three miles around Pittsboro. According to a January, 22, 2013 memo prepared by the Pittsboro Planning Director, the 2013 area encompassed 1,900+/- acres, which extends the ETJ to 4.87 miles south of the Pittsboro town limits.Chatham County could take back all lands in the ETJ that are further than 1 mile from the city limits. This would include the most fragile natural areas near the Haw River that are part of Chatham Park. Action by Chatham County to take back jurisdiction of some or all of Chatham Park could act as leverage to encourage Pittsboro to work with the County to protect the Haw River, Jordan Lake and the residents of this area of the county who currently have no property protections under the current plan. If Pittsboro refuses to cooperate with Chatham County then the County could proceed to take back some or all of Chatham Park. Taking this action would give Chatham County much greater control over planning and development activities undertaken by Chatham Park Investors.
Thank you for your serious consideration of the above requests.