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Finding answers about what Chatham County government is doing

By Donna Kelly
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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Pittsboro, NC - I've actively followed county government for the last four years so I'm familiar with what resources are available and many of the issues that have been raised. That's why I'm making an effort to answer questions and point people in the right direction to find information for themselves. I'm getting a jumpstart on my New Year's Resolution to contribute more to the discussion.

Many questions can be answered on the county website

The recent discussion about the chicken plants prompted Terry Dorsey to ask several questions:

1) Do the Economic Development folks actively pursue clean and other businesses and how? The EDC has their own website at

If you spend some time on their site you'll find information such as their strategic plan, a list of major employers in the county, available resources and a report on their recent accomplishments. They do have a strategy of targeting a number of specific industries for recruitment as well as helping existing businesses expand and helping entrepreneurs start new businesses.

2) Is the Rocky River a state (or federally) protected river? If so, why are chicken plants free to discharge into the river?

My focus has been the county so I'm not as familiar with details in the towns so my understanding of the issues with the chicken plants and the river is limited.However, I don't believe anyone was free to discharge into the river.Hopefully someone with more knowledge of the situation can answer in more detail.

3) Has any Chatham leader articulated a long term vision for the county, Pittsboro and Siler City? If so, what is it?

I'm sure every elected official in the county has expressed some version of a general long term vision for the county or their municipality during their campaign.However, the devil is always in the details and implementation.What any particular Chatham leader articulates as a long term vision is restricted by what the actual written plans and ordinances say since many decisions must be made in the context of existing ordinances.Decisions may also be constrained by state and federal regulations.Of course while in office they will influence those regulations and they will give direction to staff on how to interpret and implement some regulations but there are constraints on what they can do.

Links to the county's plans, including the Land Conservation and Development Plan are located here.

Links to Pittsboro's plans are located here.

Siler City's website is located here and there are links there to planning documents as well as some of the town's economic development initiatives:

The EDC recently volunteered to pull together all of the existing plans into one location to make the information more accessible.This will make it easier for them to work with potential industrial recruits.This will also help the county with future updates to their comprehensive plan by saving money over having an outside consultant do it and making sure it accurately reflects the situation in the county since it's being done by people familiar with the county.The county has been discussing an update of the Land Use Plan for quite a few years now so I expect we'll be hearing more about it next year. The EDC expects to have their work done in April.

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