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Two votes for Chatham

By Stuart Smith
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2004

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My name is Stuart Smith. I am seventeen years old & have lived in this county my entire life. I don't claim to know everything involved in politics, but I think this year's race for Chatham County commissioner has two very obvious choices.

Chatham County has something special. It has unique qualities that set it apart from our neighboring counties. Much of Chatham has remained an untouched paradise in the midst of rapid growth and development all around us. Chatham's people are diverse, but we all share common ground in cherishing the beauty of our great county.

This county's landscape could be described as rolling green pastures in some areas. Heavily wooded terrains, filled with a variety of wildlife, extend for hundreds of acres in other sections. Other areas are blessed with clear rivers and streams, bringing to life the silence of a forest or a field of grazing cattle. The county is rural enough that any locality is an ideal spot to sit and enjoy the music of crickets, or watch the stars at night, without the disturbance of headlights or light pollution from a nearby city.

Chatham County is in a period of change. Some people call this change progress. I disagree. Aren't forests and pastures more "optically pleasing" than rooftops?

What are the features of housing developments that draw so many admirers? They certainly don't bring the county revenue, at least not in the long run when you consider all the public services the county would have to supply. Think of the burden a large development would place on our already heavily overcrowded schools, or the sheriff's department, or fire departments, or narrow roadways (to name a few).

Large scale housing developments and gated communities obviously don't encourage diversity. They traditionally attract wealthy, white folks. Developments like Briar Chapel would allow its residents to isolate themselves from the rest of the county with their own exclusive community.

Think of the effect that developments would have on current Chatham residents. Many would be forced to move due to skyrocketing property taxes. Others may have to relocate due to new roads being built and/or widened.

Oh, has anyone considered the environmental impacts of a large development. Our "impaired" streams would become even more polluted and our wildlife would die after being forced into smaller and smaller plots of land.

We live in a big, beautiful county. Our current public officials are taking it for granted and approving developments carelessly, before they evaluate their numerous harmful effects. Chatham commissioner candidates Mike Cross and Patrick Barnes will work to save our county's beauty. They will strive to achieve diversity and affordable housing. They will preserve our unique, small town community character. Most importantly, they will listen to the citizens of Chatham County, making citizen input a top priority in any and all decisions they make.

I am not old enough to vote. I hope that you will consider my thoughts before heading to the polls. Whether you agree with me or not, I strongly encourage you to practice your right as an American and VOTE on July 20!

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