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Chatham staff recommends old landfill site for new county jail

Posted Monday, August 1, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - On Monday, August 1 the Chatham County board of Commissioners heard a presentation and received the recommendation to site the new county jail on property owned by Chatham County near the closed lanfill on route 64.

Introduction & Background: The first task of the architect hired by the county to design the new jail was to help the county determine the best site for the new jail. The architect evaluated 3 potential sites, including:
• Property adjacent to the new Justice Center (JC Site). The architect looked at both a single-story and a multi-story design
• An unidentified site within the Town of Pittsboro, chosen as a generic in-town site (GIT Site) to offer a comparison with the 2 known sites.
• County-owned property located near the closed landfill

The site selection study describes in depth these sites and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

The architect used five criteria to compare the sites:
• Project schedule
• Cost
• The site’s impact on security & operations
• Jail’s ability to expand
• The approval process

The site study analyzes each site against the criteria in depth.

Discussion & Analysis:

Criteria 1: Schedule—The property near the closed landfill was determined to be the best site. The architect estimates a completion date of September 2013 for the landfill; February 2014 for the GIT site; and September 2014 for the JC site. The JC schedule is prolonged because of approvals needed, additional construction, and site restrictions.

Criteria 2: Cost—Although the GIT site appears slightly cheaper, both it and the landfill site have comparable costs. Both JC options are substantially more expensive.

INITIAL COST COMPARISONS OF THREE PROPOSED SITES
Justice Center Site Single Story Jail - $2,614,750

Justice Center Site Multi Story Jail - $2,699,750

Landfill Site - $1,207,000

Generic In-town Site - $1,100,00

Criteria 3: Site’s Impact on Security and Operations—Security was examined from two aspects:

• External security and interface with the court system
• Internal security and efficiency of circulation

Because of the close proximity and ability to transport prisoners within a secure environment, the JC Site offers the most secure interface with the courts.

Because of the configuration of the building to fit the site, the JC property does not allow for 2 key features of internal security—a central, one-direction hallway with good sight lines and a “wagon-wheel” configuration for monitoring cell blocks. The Landfill and GIT site offer better internal security and efficiency of circulation.


Criteria 4: Future Expansion—Because of the amount of property the county owns, the jail could be expanded for the foreseeable future on the Landfill property. The constraints of the JC site mean that the Phase 2 expansion to 212 beds will be difficult and very costly. No expansion is possible beyond that point.

Criteria 5: The approval process—Both the JC and GIT sites are under the jurisdiction of the town of Pittsboro. Both sites would require a rezoning, special use permit, and text amendments to the zoning ordinance, which could take 90 days or more. The town planner has said that the jail could cause the justice building site approval to be reconsidered, as it affects parking and stormwater controls of that building.

The Landfill property is owned by the county and is unzoned. The architect believes all permits can be obtained without affecting the construction schedule.


Budgetary Impact:

The budget for the jail has been set and the architect is obligated to bring any site within the budget.

Recommendation:

A committee comprised of representatives of the Sheriff’s Office, County Manager’s Office, Public Works, and the project Construction Manager met and unanimously decided that the landfill is the preferred site.

 
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