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Posted Thursday, January 2, 2014
Pittsboro, NC - Dear Mary Phyllis, I have chatted with you for years, exchanged emails and either read or listened intently to your wisdom and concerns. And you are one of the many reasons that I think Pittsboro is a special place.
And, although I am no longer Pittsboro's Mayor, I made a personal commitment to stay engaged and continue to invest time, effort and capital into our community.
With that said, I will endeavor to answer publicly your queries:
When Chatham Park purchased its first large piece of land years ago from the Barber and Holmes family, I knew that change was afoot and that some form of constructive engagement was required between the Town, the community, and the new owners.
I met with the new owners (Chatham Park) and they asked me whether they should take their future plans for a project to the county or the town. Naturally, I asked that they work with the Town, because it was and is the sensible choice. (Otherwise the Town and our community would get an unincorporated development on our doorstep with little control, little input, and more importantly zero tax revenue, sales tax revenue, etc.)
I asked the new owners to spend their time and meet with community leaders and community organizations, which is why their representative Mr. Culpepper and other representatives from Chatham Park have attended and participated in hundreds of meetings over the past seven years.
And most of the meetings where public, too.
As for your query regarding public notice, the Town did not receive a formal application for rezoning until 2013; however, portions of the current proposed project have been submitted and rezoned by the Town since 2003-2004 and discussed at length by the Town. (For example, Chatham Park now owns the property formerly known as "River Oaks", which was rezoned and approved by the Town as a MUPD when Nancy May was our Mayor.)
In addition, I have personally, emailed and told many, many citizens and stakeholders about Chatham Park and its impending application for a potential rezoning and approval over the past seven years and it has been mentioned at a number of Town meetings, CCEDC meetings, and TARPO meetings since at least 2007. (In fact, Chatham Park is a key component of the County EDC's economic development plan and so noted in its documents.)
Finally, Chatham Park has been the subject and/or on the agenda of a number of public meetings over the years and it has been mentioned , discussed and referenced online and in the media, too.
As for the wildlife habitats and national heritage sites, I worked with Commissioner Bett Foley and the Town Board to support a grant through the Wildlife Service in order to work with the Town on these areas and constructively with Chatham Park. (As an aside, one of the areas you reference was submitted to the Town and approved by the Town before I was the Mayor as "River Oaks". Toll Brothers was the driving force on this potential development. At this juncture the community will receive a much better outcome working with Chatham Park than the MUPD that was approved years ago as River Oaks and has now expired.)
As for the other regulations you reference, Chatham Park and any other developer in Pittsboro will be required to comply with all Town, State and Federal regulations. In addition, the Town just passed new storm water regulations. Finally, this process will include work on a new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that will not only address a number of concerns, but also serve the community well as a coherent and unified guide for development.
As for demography, Pittsboro and Chatham County have been changing over the past forty years. I believe that if we work constructively, advocate to save our rural buffers, continue to support local businesses, local and organic farms, the arts and culture of Chatham County, our schools, down town areas, the community college and other institutions---we will continue to attract a wide variety of people who believe in community and making Pittsboro a great place for everyone.
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