This website is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, you are seeing this message because your browser does not support basic Web standards, and does not properly display the site's design details. Please consider upgrading to a more modern browser. (Learn More).

You are here: home > news > government

Memo from Chatham County Attorney regarding Draft B

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2004

e-mail E-mail this page   print Printer-friendly page

90 West Salisbury
P.O. Box 880
Pittsboro, NC 27312
(919) 542-3253 - Telephone
(919) 542-0257 - Facsimile

To: Chatham County Board of Commissioners
From: Robert L. Gunn and Paul S. Messick, Jr.

Date: January 9, 2004
Re: Compact Community Ordinance

In order to supplement our discussion the other day, we previously submitted a long memorandum dated October 20, 2003 listing numerous legal concerns about the Compact Community ordinance. Very few of those concerns, if any, were addressed in the November 21, 2003 draft from the Planning Board. We were not invited to directly participate in the drafting process until we were requested to attend a committee meeting on affordable housing on November 24, 2003. We were then requested to help draft language to incorporate the CCO into the county's existing regulations.

After Thanksgiving, we waited for the consultant to draft his recommendations. We were then informed that he was not an expert in conditional use matters. As a result and after consultation with the Planning Department, we prepared the proposed amendments to the County's zoning, subdivision, and watershed ordinances to allow a Compact Community Conditional Use District to be created in the first instance and to allow a compact community as its only permitted use. Without these changes the ordinance presented by the Planning Board was not enforceable. We also proposed changes in the Planning Board draft in order to deal with possible conflicts between the CCO and the County's existing regulations.

At the same time, we suggested that additional provisions be included in the CCO draft to allow a waiver of the ordinance provisions in the event the Board of Commissioners was satisfied that there was no rational nexus between an ordinance requirement and the particulars of a proposed compact community. We explained to Keith and Charlie that similar language had helped withstand a constitutional attack on a Napa, California affordable housing ordinance. Similarly, we suggested that the Planning Board draft also include language allowing the Board of Commissioners to consider alternative, but financially equivalent, options for providing affordable housing.

Those proposals were submitted on December 9, 2003. The waiver proposals were intended to give the Board of Commissioners more flexibility and the ability to have more options than the draft ordinance provisions. They were not intended to frustrate the Planning Board's work or opinion. We considered that you could easily decide whether to submit the proposed amendments for a public hearing even if you had questions concerning the merits of the proposals.

Shortly thereafter, we met with Keith to discuss the proposals and his concerns about the Planning Board draft of the CCO. We assisted him in changing some editorial and administrative portions of the draft. We were thereafter directed by Keith and Charlie to consider the entire draft and to suggest revisions to eliminate duplicative and redundant matters and in order to make the draft satisfy our previously expressed concerns. We did that and submitted it to Keith by December 18, 2003. Because of the holidays and the need for publishing the agenda, your staff decided to post all of the information on the web site without much explanation.

It was our understanding that the Board was to meet on January 5, 2003 to decide whether to call for a public hearing on the CCO and related matters. It was not our understanding that the merits of any draft materials were to be an issue. As you are aware, even if the 11-21-03 draft were submitted to a public hearing, significant changes might require another hearing. Revisions after a public hearing may become more difficult for the public to understand. We believe that the staff wanted you to have the opportunity to consider additional materials for a public hearing in order to possibly preclude an additional hearing.

In our discussions with you the other day, we tried to suggest that there might well be textual difficulties as well as substantive issues inherent in the Planning Board draft. Our recommendations were merely that. Whether you choose to follow any suggestion we have made, from a legal or administrative standpoint, is your decision. The Board of Commissioners has the right to make decisions on planning and the regulation of development as it determines to be in the best interest of the county. We understand that and have made suggestions in this instance that we believe will allow the creation of compact communities if the Board, in its sole discretion, decides to rezone property for that purpose. Our recommendations will, we believe, lessen the expectation that Chatham County is responsible for certain utility systems in the future and enhance the ability of your staff to administer the development of a compact community to the extent that you are legally able to do so.

There may be other ways to resolve these issues and we would be glad to cooperate in any effort to consider alternatives. Obviously, your input is critical. If there are provisions that you cannot support under any circumstance, then they need to be addressed immediately. If the Board has any questions or concerns about any draft or any of the proposed amendments we would be glad to respond.

e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
Memo from Chatham County Attorney regarding Draft B

Free Classifieds

Got Feedback?
Send a letter to the editor.

Sign up for the Chatham Chatlist.

Promote your brand at

ChathamJournal Web

Subscribe now: RSS news feed, plus FREE headlines for your site