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Posted Friday, September 2, 2011
Pittsboro, NC - We recently voted to locate the new jail at the old Chatham County Landfill site. In a perfect world we wouldn't need to build a new jail but unfortunately we have a critical need now.
Before our vote, a committee made up of representatives from the Sheriff's office, County Manager's office, Public works, and the project construction manager studied possible sites throughout the county. There were three possible sites evaluated in depth. The first was adjacent to the new justice center, the second was a site in town Pittsboro, and the third was the County landfill property.
When choosing a site there were five main criteria used; 1) Project schedule, 2) Cost, 3) Impact on security and operations, 4) ability to expand, and 5) the approval process.
The in-town Pittsboro site had a slight advantage on cost. The Justice center site would cost over $1.5 million more than an in-town site and the Landfill site will cost about $107,000 more than the in-town location. A good amount of the additional cost comes from the need to build a very large retaining wall. Additionally, the Justice center site is very close to Robeson Creek. Commissioner Cross pointed out that given the proximity to the creek it would be difficult not to pollute the water. He also asked if we would even consider approving a project of this magnitude in the center of town near the creek if it weren't a government building. I think the answer to that is probably not. The Justice center site appears to have the highest potential for negative environmental impacts.
When looking at the internal security and operations of the three sites, the justice center was less ideal than the other two sites. Criteria 4 dealt with the ability to expand in the future. The landfill site was best for this.
Finally, the approval process was evaluated. The county already owns the landfill property and we will not need to rezone. The other two sites require rezoning which, at least for the in-town site, would have been unlikely. We would also have needed DOT approval for the other sites.
After considering all five criteria, the unanimous recommendation from the committee was to use the Landfill site. The majority of commissioners agreed.
Brian Bock is chairman of the Chatham County Commissioners.
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