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Chatham citizen examines differences between draft A and draft B of CCO

By Robert Eby
Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2004

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January 18, 2004


I am writing to you in response to the letter to you from Messrs. Gunn & Messick, Esq. It is dated Jan. 9, 2004, and appeared on the County’s website on Jan.16.

After reading this letter thoroughly, I am both puzzled and dismayed. Let me explain why.


1. Your attorneys submitted a letter of legal concerns about the Compact Community Ordinance (CCO) on Oct. 20, 2003. Who received it? If the staff, were you and the Planning Board not informed? If you were informed, why was the public not informed?

2. I spoke individually to each of you during week before the Jan. 5, 2004, Board meeting. All of you expressed surprise at where Version B of the CCO came from. I asked who authorized preparation of Version B and what gives it stature in the process of finalizing a draft to go to Public Hearing? Two of you said, “It may have come from Keith or Charlie.” Three of you said, “Now that we have two versions of the CCO, we have to pick one. We can’t go the Public Hearing with both.” All this isn’t consistent with the facts given by Gunn and Messick.

3. The letter says that the consultant (I assume this is Ben Hitchings) is not an expert in “conditional use matters.” Since the CCO will require a Conditional Use Permit to be granted a developer, why was Hitchings hired to craft the CCO in the first place? If this was known to the Planning Department, did they tell you? If not, why not?


1. Your attorneys not only corrected the legalese in the CCO, they wrote their own version.

2. Your attorneys keep referring to the Planning Board’s Draft, as if there were no substantive input from LUPIC, citizens in general, and the Board of Commissioners itself. This sounds like a cop out by trying to blame all real or imagined short-comings on the Planning Board. (I am sure your attorneys, being good lawyers, would have referred to the draft as the one that was last reviewed by the Planning Board, if this is what they meant.)

3. Why do your attorneys feel all enforcement provisions in the CCO should be stated as being at the Board’s option? Remember this CCO does call for a Conditional Use Permit to be granted. If a developer feels he needs an exception, he can always ask for a variance.

4. Your attorneys are setting policy in the affordable housing section of the CCO. What gives them the right to insert a provision that would remove any requirement for affordable housing inside the compact community?

5. While all this major reworking of the CCO was going on, why weren’t you and the public informed?

How demeaning and condescending can you get.

6. The letter says, “Revisions after a Public Hearing may become more difficult for the public to understand.” How demeaning and condescending can you get. I thought the purpose of a Public Hearing was to give the public the chance to comment on a proposal and was the proper forum to request changes. This section of the letter just sounds like an attempt to hurry the secretly prepared Version B on its way.

7. In the last paragraph of their letter, your attorneys say, “If the Board has any questions or concerns about any draft or any of the proposed amendments we would be glad to respond.” They do not say: ”Any legal questions.” Are your attorneys now the experts on all matters in the CCO, so that you have no need for any other expert input?

What is really going on in Chatham County? Your attorneys are hired by you and take direction from you, either directly or through the County’s staff. Many of your citizens would like a full explanation of what has been happening from you and from no one else!

A most concerned citizen,

Robert N. Eby
Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities

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