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Homestead at Jordan Lake to be discussed at Planning Board Meeting

By Allison E. Weakley
Posted Friday, January 2, 2004

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A request for a change in zoning (from RA-5 to RA-40) and a conditional use permit to build a 577-acre gated community, named The Homestead at Jordan Lake, with 475 lots on Big Woods Road along Jordan Lake in northeastern Chatham County is due to be discussed at the next Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, January 6th in the auditorium of the Agriculture Building in Pittsboro. A public information session is scheduled for 6:30pm, and the meeting will begin at 7pm. To view the
agenda, go here

A change in zoning from would allow a large planned residential development to be built in an area currently zoned to help protect water quality in Jordan Lake.

A change in zoning from RA-5 to RA-40 would allow a large planned residential development to be built in an area currently zoned to help protect water quality in Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake serves as a valuable drinking water supply, recreational resource, and aquatic habitat and wildlife habitat resource. The following are some major concerns raised by the request for change in zoning and conditional use permit:

** Water quality in Jordan Lake is already compromised by existing development, and the NC Division of Water Quality is very concerned about current nutrient loads in Jordan Lake already (see below links to websites on Jordan Lake water quality). The Big Woods area is currently zoned as a Residential-Agricultural District (RA-5) for "very low density residential developments along the County's rivers and streams which are compatable with protecting the water quality of the rivers and streams." RA-5 zoning allows 1 house per 5 acre lot to protect water quality; a change in zoning to RA-40 would allow The Homestead to build 1 house per 0.5 acre or less.

** Traffic would greatly increase on surrounding roads (Lystra Road, Jack Bennett Road, Big Woods Road). The Homestead estimates 1216 residents at build out, many of whom would likely travel these roads daily. Add these daily commuters to those who already live along Big Woods Road (including 500+ homes to be built at The Preserve, adjacent to The Homestead site), and traffic becomes a large burden for these roads and the surrounding community.

** An active Bald Eagle nesting site (a Federally Threatened species) is present at intersection of Big Woods Road and Jack Bennett Road, just north of the proposed development; increased traffic and population density in this sensitive wildlife area would impact foraging and nesting behavior of the Bald Eagles at Jordan Lake.

** The site proposed for development is considered a "significant natural area" and important wildlife habitat and corridor by NC Natural Heritage Program; species that require large tracts of land, including bobcats, birds of prey, and wild turkeys, would likely be impacted by another planned residential development along Big Woods Road. Current zoning that only allows very low density development helps protect this area as an important wildlife habitat and corridor.

** Jordan Lake is ranked in the top 10 tourist attractions of North Carolina. As tourism increases in Chatham County (and it has over the past few years!), and as development limits what natural areas are still available for recreation, conservation and sound land use decisions become more and more important. Improved quality of life for Chatham residents and the revenues generated by tourism to the Jordan Lake area will in the long run surpass in public benefits what The Homestead proposes to offer the Chatham community.

** A gated community that offers to allow art and ecology students and garden clubs restricted access to study the artificial meadows created at The Homestead has dubious benefits for the Chatham community at large, especially considering the water issues at stake.

For further details on each of these concerns, please see the information below. To learn more about this proposal, go to the Chatham County website
In particular, examine the five findings required to be met by the request (including that the conditional use must be essential or desirable; that the requested permit will not impair the integrity or character of the surrounding or adjoining districts, and will not be detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the community; that the permit be consistent with the objectives of the Land Development Plan; and that adequate utilities, access roads, storm drainage, recreation, open space, and other necessary facilities have been or are being provided consistent with the County's plans, policies, and regulations).

Jordan Lake is the best outdoor recreation area in Chatham County, provides important and wildlife habitat and migration corridors for many species, and is a very valuable drinking water and aquatic habitat resource.

Please write the Planning Board and Commissioners let them know that clean water, recreation opportunities, aquatic and wildlife habitat, and natural heritage are important to residents of this county. Ask that they do not approve the request for a change in zoning and the conditional use permit for The Homestead at Jordan Lake. Zoning restrictions are already in place to protect the integrity of this area and the health and safety of the community. Also ask that they work harder to provide a comprehensive land use plan for Chatham County that designates economic centers, conserves known natural areas and our natural heritage, and lays out a well-planned vision for the future.

 
 
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