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Why put out the asphalt welcome mat for developers?

By Mark Barroso
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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Pittsboro, NC - My name is Mark Barroso and I represent Chatham First, a grassroots group organized to oppose a big box store in north Chatham and a new Wal mart in the county. It is puzzling to us why this commission would rush willy-nilly into putting out the asphalt welcome mat for developers who want to maximize their profits at the expense of your citizens stuck in traffic, stuck with North Raleigh ugliness and stuck with the tax bill that comes with a community that is only a bedroom for the rest of the Triangle.

Did I mention news reports say Wake County will run out of drinkable water in the next few years because of runaway growth?

The last time this body considered a radical change to the landscape of Chatham you wisely agreed to postpone approving Briar Chapel in order to study, debate and agree on the regulations that would shape such a compact community. Even the developer Newland Communities has said their project is now better because of it.

And now you want to open the floodgates once again to the out of town profiteers who don’t have to live with the traffic congestion or eyesores they create.

None of you have articulated a detailed plan for how and where the 10/70 rule and conditional zoning would be used. None of you have backed up your promises for a comprehensive plan for the county. Name a street in Wake, Orange or Durham County you would like to see 15/501 to be like. Do you expect us to believe that you’re going to invent something that’s never been done before? Is it too much to ask that present and future citizens should know NOW where the massive shopping centers will be located?

During the last election Patrick Barnes campaigned to keep Cary out of Chatham and he was hugely successful. Well, we want to keep North Raleigh out of North Chatham. We don’t want their ugly sprawl, their traffic jams, their water shortage, their tax rates, their crime, their light pollution or the people who tolerate it. For people who want that sort of thing, it’s over there for them.

But not here.

Some of you have been dismissive of us as a “special interest” group. I would like to know who among us you think is going to make money on your approval of the 10/70 rule. Me? I own two acres and a tiny house. Or developers like Lee-Moore Oil company or the world’s richest corporation, Wal Mart? It is they who would like to see us change our rules so they can minimize their expense of building here and maximize their profits. Which of us is the special interest?

In the latest issue of Big Builder magazine, the California Public Relations firm hired by Newland Communities brags about how they overcame the opposition to Briar Chapel by funding organizing efforts in Siler City to counter citizens complaints like mine in nearby Pittsfield. That’s Pittsboro for all you local folks.

So my question to this board, specifically, to the people running for office next year, will you promise here tonight to NOT accept any money or assistance of any kind – like telephone polls, for instance - from a person or company outside of the county that will benefit from the 10/70 rule or Conditional Zoning?

P.S. Later in evening, Chatham First expressed its support for the residents and merchants of Goldston getting a functional sewer system, and believes we can do that without making deaks with companies on shaky financial ground.

 
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