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Posted Friday, April 25, 2014
Pittsboro, NC - The wonderful thing about the internet is that you can always find something that supports your perspective and sharing that information is as simple as clicking a button. Now the downside to that, is that at times it will either lack context or the context would be distorted to make a different point.
I find it quite troubling that within our system of government, every issue becomes a polarizing issue of good versus evil when it should be about community and balance. One must win the other must loose, compromise is a sign of weakness, it's very unfortunate. I see how this works for our nation as our political system gets mired in gridlock and wasted energy, only to result in a confusing mess of legal loopholes and propaganda pushed through the ever powerful lobby function.
I work in the high-tech sector and I think what Mr. Goodnight has done not only for SAS but for his philanthropic efforts around education are to be applauded. However, this should not afford him or anyone for that matter, a pass when it comes to reviewing impact to the area(s) where major development and change are being proposed, especially when there are no commitments that new high paid jobs and homes will be available for current county citizens.
There are no training programs being funded to train our children to work in these jobs through the community colleges and there is not even reference to the possibility of creating jobs and opportunities for our nations veterans who are stationed a hour and half away at Fort Bragg!
Also, I do not see big partnerships with Google, IBM or Cisco to create a "smart city" as highlighted the desire to have, with smart streetlights, etc.. I believe much of this should be committed as would a new road or water system, for us and for our children and not just to offset the cost of utilities for the county. I believe it should also provide ubiquitous internet access, an innovation center and a startup incubator connected to UNC, NCSU and Duke as well.
Keep in mind that the development is the brainchild of Tim Smith, a successful developer with Jim Goodnight as the sole financier of the development, who's group posted a video on youtube over two years ago with aerial shots of "Chatham Park", showing the nature, farmlands, lake and river. They started acquiring land back in 2006, with 1,800 acres, then adding 5,000 and more in 2010.
While I can see why many citizens would be alarmed and surprised at the scope and size of the development, especially when they are just learning about plans that have been in the making since the mid-2000s, I am also positive that no business or investor would spend such money without having first discussed this with county officials and had a reasonable understanding that they would be able to develop the land. It would be good to review meeting notes and all zoning actions/decisions in the affected area dating back to the Mid-2000s if they are available. However if they do not exist, then there is good reason to expect an even more detailed review of the plans, since to buy that much land without the prior planning and coordination, would also equate the logical deduction that the development would be planned in the same manor, which would be very concerning.
While I support the concept of the development and the jobs and talent we could retain in our state, I am not supportive of providing anyone or any corporation a unchecked permission to build as high as they want, to define their own setbacks and more importantly to force anything on the citizens of Chatham county.
The citizens of Chatham county, as I understand have elected officials that are there to serve the citizens of Chatham county and owe a legal obligation to ensure the citizens of Chatham county have equal legal representation in matters of development and more specifically rezoning. It cannot be the average Chatham county citizen who is impacted, because they are making an "Emotional" argument to our county leaders, whereas corporations have paid lawyers to argue the "Legal" allowances to their project in accordance with the Chatham County, State, National ordinances and policies. How many citizens are well versed in complex development or zoning laws?
Instead of arguing for or against any given development, how about we expect the appropriate legal representation for our tax dollars. It would be great to see over the course of the past 10 years, how many citizens raised their emotional arguments, but in the end were not heard since they lacked the legal representation that was needed to ensure they had a true voice in the process. With the appropriate level of legal representation, the citizens concerns would be more fairly considered.
If you ask me, the resistance seen in Chatham county has little to do with Mr. Goodnight or the amazing opportunity they see for the region and state, it has everything to do with citizens that do not feel they have a legal voice or representation in the process or who have been impacted, unfairly in the past by a process that is not citizen friendly. Yes, citizens are able to gather, to protest, to raise concerns, have sit-ins and to make emotional pleas, but in the end these are contextual to the legal process. These emotional arguments are geared towards raising awareness in hopes that the legal leaders take action, however the citizens remain legally underrepresented in the process. In the end, no citizen or citizen group would be able fund the legal representation that the developer can afford.
I have heard arguments for and against development in Chatham county, in one case I heard home owners highlighting the impact, the destruction of an environment, traffic concerns, etc.. Then hearing the paid lawyers highlight, yes we understand there will be impact, however "legally" we have the right do that. If the process is a legal process, of which such a development is, then the right to adequate legal representation for the citizens is what should be afforded and secured. If the developers are willing to build roads, schools, new police stations for the City/County to ensure it bears no cost as a result of the development, then I feel we as citizens should not bear cost in having the appropriate legal representation to ensure our collective legal arguments and concerns are heard.
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