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Questions for Pittsboro Town Board and Mayoral candidates

By Elizabeth Reid
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2005

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1. Citizen participation in local government decision-making.

a. Are there any barriers to citizen input to Pittsboro town government? If yes, please explain what they are and what you would do to change them and/or what specific proposal you would offer to enhance citizen involvement in town governance. If not, please say how town officials encourage citizen involvement.

b. Sometimes citizens have to stand in the hallways during public hearings and meetings of the Town Board and Planning Board because there is not enough space in the meeting rooms. What would you propose to change this situation?

2. In a small town such as Pittsboro, real or potential conflicts of interest can exist when elected officials, professional staff members and contracted advisors have financial investments or relationships with individuals who must do business with town boards.

a. Do you think the Town of Pittsboro should develop a conflict of interest policy: If so, what are the benefits and purpose of such a policy? If not, explain why you do not feel such a policy is needed.

b. If so, what key provisions should that policy include?

c. What and whom should it cover? Board members? Contracted services? Professional staff?

3. The rapid population and geographic growth of the Triangle area beginning to have an impact on Pittsboro and will have a more dramatic effect in the future. Some citizens want Pittsboro to grow as big and fast as possible so we can have all of the commercial amenities that are available in other Triangle cities. Others want to preserve its small-town flavor.

a. What is your vision of the Town of Pittsboro 10-20 years from now? Please address projected population size and demographics, pace of growth, geographic growth, emphasis on infill and/or expansion beyond the town, mix of business, transportation, environmental protections, look of the town, nature of residential areas, residential/commercial/industrial separation of uses vs mixed uses, etc.

b. Is it possible to preserve and enhance Pittsboro’s small town friendly atmosphere, physical character, and visual attributes in the face of increasing pressures to grow? If so, what would you propose the town can do in this regard?

c. Do you feel a need to develop a strategic plan and update the land use plan for Pittsboro? What role should citizens play in developing those plans?

d. Should the town control and manage its growth, both geographically and population-wise? If so, in what manner?

e. Do you believe that the current land use plan is adequate to deal with the growth the town is facing now and in the future? If not, what would you propose?

4. Citizens have expressed concerns that local zoning decisions are made that seem to contradict the land use plan, and that rezoning has occurred on an ad hoc and reactionary basis. Some say the Town Board has even “spot- zoned” property in contradiction to the land use plan and State law.

a. Do you believe these concerns are accurate, and why or why not?

b. What would you do to give land-use planning a greater prominence in Town decision-making?

c. Would you insist that rezoning and subdivision regulations be made in accordance with the land use plan?

5. The Town has recently reviewed or approved several large residential and mixed-use developments.

a. Do you believe the Town Board has been sufficiently proactive in negotiating with developers regarding provision of infrastructure, utilities, public recreation facilities, and public amenities? If not, what do you think the Town should be doing in this regard?

b. What kinds of additional public amenities would you require of large-scale developments? If they are providing tennis courts, swimming pools and other such recreational amenities, should they be required to make those available to the public in some way (free or reasonable fees)?

c. How can officials ensure that large developments do not negatively impact our highways and natural resources? Should our land use regulations [zoning, subdivision and other similar ordinances] be upgraded to address these issues?

6. Both county and local officials are making decisions about major residential and commercial developments and the infrastructure needed to service them and to encourage economic development and the expansion of the tax base. These decisions effect citizens living in both the county and the town.

a. Do you believe the elected officials and their professional staffs in the Town of Pittsboro and Chatham are adequately coordinating and cooperating in their planning and decision making concerning the above-stated issues? If so, please provide specific examples and indicate if there are actions you would proposed that would improve their joint planning and decision making? If not, provide specific example of where you think this process has fallen short and what specific policies and arrangements you would propose to improve joint planning and decision-making between the town and county.

7. Citizens express concerns that Pittsboro lacks adequate recreational and cultural programs, while the Town has failed to maintain the public tennis courts and the Town Lake property.

a. Do you think Pittsboro officials have made a sufficient effort to encourage and support recreational and cultural activities? If yes, please state the specific steps that the town has taken and what additional steps you would propose. If no, state specifics as to where you believe officials efforts have fallen short and what you would propose to provide greater encouragement and support.

b. Should the town repair the tennis courts and Town Lake? Should it expand recreational programs, if so, in what way?

c. Do you think Pittsboro would benefit from a performing arts facility in town? If so, what would be the role of public officials in providing financial support or leadership?

8. Citizens and business persons have expressed concern that local officials have not provided leadership or support for the economic and cultural development of downtown Pittsboro.

a. Do you agree with the above statement? If you disagree, please provide specific examples of such leadership and support? If you agree, in what specific ways has that leadership and support fallen short and what you propose to provide more leadership or support.

b What do you think the role of local officials should be in downtown development?

c Describe your vision of what downtown Pittsboro could become and what it would look like.

d Should Pittsboro official encourage large commercial developments outside of town? Why or why not?

9. Some citizens argue that the town should do more to improve the aesthetics and appearance of the town, including its quality and look downtown, other commercial/business/industrial areas, and recreation areas and other public spaces.

a. Do you believe the town should be involved in improving the aesthetics and appearance of the town and why or why not?

b. What specific policies or practices would you like to see the town implement to improve and/or protect the aesthetics and appearance of the town?

c. Should this include architectural and appearance guidelines? If yes, can you state any specific proposals you would promote concerning the type or objective of such guidelines?

10. Citizens are increasingly interested in walking and biking in town, both for exercise and to save on gas, yet there are many areas of town where it is unsafe to walk because there are no sidewalks.

Is making Pittsboro a walkable and bikeable community an important goal? If so, what steps are needed to make the streets safer for walking or bicycling?

11. (For Mayoral candidates only). Since the Mayor only votes in the case of a tie, some argue that this is only a ceremonial position.

a. What do you believe the Mayor’s role is? What are the specific responsibilities of the position?

b. Do you believe the current Mayor provides the kind of leadership Pittsboro needs to meet current and future challenges and opportunities? If so, please provide examples of leadership. If not, please be specific about what should be done.

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