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Jack Bennett Road property issues

By Gerald Totten
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007

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Chatham County, NC - On 5 February, the Board of Education met to discuss and assign responsibilities for presenting certain facts about the Jack Bennett Road site during the joint meeting with the Board of Commissioners. The scheduled joint meeting is 12 February at Pittsboro Elementary School beginning at 6:30 p.m.

After a walking tour of the land on 18 December by the BOEd, media, central office staff and concerned citizens, three professionals in botany, soil science and Department of Transportation made detailed presentations about the site in their respective fields. The joint meeting was scheduled to ensure both elected boards shared considerations about the potential site.

At this point there is agreement the site can be built on but there are a number of very expensive limitations to overcome. There are 94 acres on the site with some 30% unusable. Surface water, water seeps from underground springs and deep ravines must be overcome as should the trafficability of Jack Bennett Road itself.

There is also agreement prior to any construction or fund obligations for the site, sub surface soil engineering studies must be conducted. The soil composite is such that foundation work will require extensive reinforcement as well as a unique design to prevent future settling and damage to any structure. Water runoff from the adjacent Westfall (formerly Boothe Mountain) residential development is what gives rise to a number of the seeps and drainage needs of Chatham schools’ property.

At present the only access to the property is an easement from Jack Bennett Road some ½ mile to the estimated school location. That easement is on the downhill side of a steep rise to Westfall on the west and a deep ravine on the east allowing only a two lane route. To widen that entrance/exit will be an engineering challenge just to handle the runoff from Westfall and the deep ravine.

Waste water issues also dictate very close scrutiny in that the present agreement with Governors Club requires the school to build a sewer line around the edge of its property north to tie into the present sewer line from North Chatham Elementary. That line will involve pumping stations since it is all uphill from the site. We will also have to maintain monitoring facilities and return piping to allow the effluent to be sent back for spray irrigation use on the athletic fields. We recognize spray irrigation from Governors Club’s sewage plant has reached its own capacity as it attempts to locate additional land off of Governors Club to spray its own effluent. A soil survey and permitting by the state may prevent any runoff that close to Jordan Lake. Soil science to date shows poor absorption of school site soils. An alternate sewage handling plan has not been firmed as Westfall’s permit does not allow for added treatment or spray irrigation and there is no other possibility at present.

At present there are no located points on the ground for any of the indicated structures. Building sites will require extensive excavation and grading efforts as will mitigation of wetlands on the site.

Two other major influences hampering further exploration of the needed school are the debt limit of county funding and the planned location of the optimum site based upon updated data of planned and approved developments. The last locations were based upon 2004 data which is no longer valid. That optimum site is to be announced in March. At that time, a decision will be made to either proceed with this site or make every effort to locate one more in keeping with the new recommendation.

Related info:
Gerald Totten Blog
e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page

Related info:
Gerald Totten Blog