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How to stop Cary from annexing Chatham

By Sally Kost
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2004

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What's at Stake on July 20? - Cary Annexation

The simple answer! Vote for Barnes and Cross, who are fully committed to implementing the land use plan to protect Jordan Lake and area's rural character.

"Cary isn't the evil empire"

"Cary isn't the evil empire," stated District 1 Chatham commissioner candidate Ron Singleton, during a candidates' forum last week at the Governor's Club. He explained that Cary has no intention of taking over land in Chatham County through involuntary annexation; this is not the way Cary does business.

"I disagree," asserted District 1 opponent Patrick Barnes. "I do believe that Cary is the evil empire." Mr. Barnes is president of Chatham County United, an organization formed to protect Jordan Lake and to fight Cary annexation into Chatham. He has been active in opposing and monitoring recent actions by Cary, including the town's recent proposal to place a Cary park on the banks of Jordan Lake.

Other opposing candidates for county commissioner do not have as sharply diverging views on the Cary annexation threat as Singleton and Barnes. However, their views on Chatham's land use plan do differ, and it's the implementation of that plan that will determine Chatham's ability to prevent annexation by Cary. The Chatham Coalition endorses Barnes and District 2 candidate Mike Cross because they firmly support the plan in order to protect Jordan Lake's water quality and preserve the surrounding areas' rural character. Moreover, they are committed to using all available local and state tools and resources needed to protect the county's water supply and one of Chatham's greatest assets, Jordan Lake.

The failure of the majority of the current county commissioners to make a commitment to protect the area around Jordan Lake has concerned Cary town leaders. Cary officials were particularly displeased with the commissioners' vote to approve the controversial high-density Homestead residential development that is to be located next to Jordan Lake, as were other Triangle municipalities that consider Jordan Lake a potential water source for their citizens.

"I opposed the Homestead proposal because it threatens the water quality of Jordan Lake," Cross informed the Coalition. "I am also firmly against any further rezoning of five acre protected zones around Jordan Lake and our rivers to allow more dense residential developments in these watershed areas through the use of spray irrigation sewage systems."

Cary officials have said they will do whatever it takes to protect the quality of their drinking water, which is drawn from Jordan Lake. Cary officials have made it clear that unless Chatham demonstrates it is committed to protecting the water quality in the lake through responsive land use planning, Cary cannot make a similar commitment not to annex or include within their extraterritorial planning jurisdiction land bordering Jordan Lake. For Chatham residents, the worst case would be that Cary
annexes a portion of the 14,000 acres of rural Chatham County located between the eastern shores of Jordan Lake and the Wake County line.

Dutchman Downs - Cary shows its aggressive growth strategy

Residents of Dutchman Downs, a residential community being squeezed by the town limits of Cary, also do not agree with Singleton's benign view of Cary. They learned of Cary's serious intentions the hard way. Last fall, Cary officials squabbling with the Town of Holly Springs over the urban services boundary line between the two towns, hastily called a special meeting to announce their plans to forcibly annex Dutchman Downs.

"This action will protect the good faith investment Cary citizens have made in infrastructure to serve the area, including more than $60 million in water, sewer, and parks," said Cary Town Manager, and former Pittsboro and Chatham County Manager, Bill Coleman.

After a public outcry, Cary dropped these annexation plans. Cary is now seeking approval to include Dutchman Downs in its planning jurisdiction. Many Chatham citizens fear that they will find themselves in the same situation as residents of Dutchman Downs, especially now that a more pro-growth town council governs Cary. Soon after the election the newly elected town council wasted no time in rolling back developer-paid impact fees, as a way of spurring more development.

Firm Commitment to Implementation Land Use Plan Separates Opponents

Cary's hunger to grow, combined with Cary's concerns over Chatham's unwillingness to protect the Jordan Lake water supply, is worrisome to many Chatham citizens. Without implementation of the Conservation and Land Use Plan, a culmination of eight years of work laying out land use in Chatham
County, eastern Chatham is clearly vulnerable to a Cary takeover.

Candidates Mike Cross and Patrick Barnes support implementation of the land use plan. Both opposed Homestead and have stated they will oppose any additional Homestead-like developments being approved for the area near Jordan Lake.

On the other hand, candidate Mary Wallace has been less committal to the use of the plan. "We should either use it, or we should change it," Wallace said. She has declined to state her position on the Homestead proposal or on whether the county should approve any additional Homestead-like developments along Jordan Lake.

Ron Singleton said he supported the Homestead development and is not opposed to even more high-density residential development around the lake, using spray irrigation sewage systems. He considers the land use plan solely as a general guideline for land use. Like Wallace, he has stated the county should implement or change it.

Supporters of the land use plan feel it is the best defense in protecting Chatham citizens from a fast-paced growth Cary land-grab.Other commissioner candidates at last week's forum stated that they thought Cary wanted to work with Chatham. Uva Holland, who is also running against Patrick Barnes in District 1, stated that in terms of Cary coming in, "they have been pretty gracious and they have asked for our input. It is just a fact that some of the people want Cary to come in. "

Likewise, candidate Mary Wallace said at a recent forum, "The new leadership in Cary is trying to work with us." At another forum, Wallace also stated that she had worked closely with Cary officials while on the Pittsboro town board and she found them reasonable. Cary's current town manager was Pittsboro town manager when Wallace was a board member and also later when she was the Pittsboro mayor.

Cary officials take the attitude that they are willing to listen to Chatham's input concerning their land use plans, rather than the other way around. Yet many Chatham residents, including Barnes, do not trust Cary officials to put the interest of Chatham residents first, as opposed to Cary's interest in growth. "Chatham County should plan for Chatham County - it should not be Cary planning for Chatham County," Barnes said.

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How to stop Cary from annexing Chatham

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