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We must regulate the pace of residential growth

By Jeffrey Starkweather
Posted Monday, June 21, 2004

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Part Four - Chatham Coalition issue article

What's at Stake on July 20?
Commissioner Races a Referendum on Sprawl Development

Growth Pace Must Be Kept in Line With Ability to Manage It and Provide Services

Chatham County is the second fastest growing county in the state and one of the fastest growing in the United States, increasing by 9.3% to an estimated population of 53,893 from 2000 to 2002. We grew by 26.6 per cent from 1990 to 2000. If the current county commissioner board continues approving every development proposal as they have in the last two years, the density of the eastern half of the county will explode. There are already in the range of 5,000 to 7,000 residential units approved, proposed or on the drawing board in eastern Chatham. That will add from 10,000 to 15,000 to our current population.

We cannot properly manage or provide services for such fast-paced growth.

We cannot properly manage or provide services for such fast-paced growth. For example, before we have even such sprawl developments as Homestead and Buck Mountain completed, the Chatham Sheriff Richard Webster informed the county commissioners his department was "maxed" and needed an additional 19 sworn officers but was only asking for 15, as well as 22 vehicles. Covering 707 miles, Webster said we were the 12th largest county, geographically, with nearly 70 miles separating the northeast and southwest portions of the county. Think about similar needs of other service departments, as well as the schools.

In addition to keeping up the cost of expanding county services to meet the pace of rapid development, such quick paced growth will result in increased costs for providing the same amount of facilities and services because of the lack of adequate lead time to provide them in the most efficient and effective manner.

Moreover, we do not have enough professional planning, public works, and other county staff to do the planning, oversight and review of the rapidly increasing development proposals. Just as importantly, we have not developed the planning ordinances, policies and procedures recommended in the land use plan to guide and direct development proposals toward smart growth objectives and practices. This will also increase the cost of these developments for the taxpayers, as well as diminish our quality of life. [See John Hammond's article "Cost of Turning Chatham into a Bedroom Community" and the News and Observer editorial of June 3, 2004, entitled "The Pace in Chatham" on the resources page of our website]

Thus, we also clearly need to control the pace of our approval of residential developments to match our county's ability to handle this growth, as well as to balance that residential growth with equally aggressive promotion of clean, living wage jobs for Chatham residents. This is the type of "conservative" approach residential growth and its impact of government services and local taxes that Barnes, Cross and the Coalition are committed to promoting.


Note: This is forth and final installment of a four part Chatham Coalition article discussing the cost, location, density and design, and pace of residential development in Chatham County. This is part of the Coalition's commitment to promote issue-oriented election campaigns in Chatham. We will post an article on the threat of Cary annexation later this week. We will continue posting similar issue articles right up to the July 20 election on such other critical issues such as economic development, regional vs. county only solid waste dump, open government and listening to citizens, protecting our rivers and watersheds, and improving the quality of our schools.

References referred to in this article can be found in the resources section of Chatham Coalition website.

Related info:
Chatham Coalition
e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
We must regulate the pace of residential growth

Related info:
Chatham Coalition

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