Huge crowd turns out for controversial development meeting in Pittsboro

The 7,000 acre development would go between Pittsboro and the Haw River and bring thousands more new residents.
February 24, 2014 8:12:34 PM PST
Hundreds of people huddled into a meeting in Pittsboro Monday evening on the controversial Chatham Park development.

The 7,000 acre development would go between Pittsboro and the Haw River. It could add 60,000 people to a town that currently has a population of only 4,000.

Town leaders got an earful from a consultant. They learned they have a lot to do just for Chatham Park to get off the ground.

The recommendations were enough to fire up people for and against the plan.

"There is a lot more work to be done," said Pittsboro resident Sheila Holland.

Holland was just one of dozens in attendance in the standing room only crowd who felt their fears confirmed.

"We know the future development here is going to be limited by the ability to serve it with water and sewer," said Chatham Park consultant Craig Lewis.

A private consultant with the Lawrence Group spent about two hours poring over the plan, and answering questions and blasting its shortcomings.

"We do think that there are some significant deficiencies in the master plan," said Lewis.

Among a laundry list of weaknesses, Lewis says the Chatham Park master plan doesn't consider for timing, phasing, annexation or traffic needs, and lacks coherent vision.

"What concerns me is them not taking into account what's going to happen to this when all of this mega construction comes along," said Holland.

Chatham Park could catapult Pittsboro's population from about 4,000 to more than 60,000 people, develop 22,000 homes, and business hubs and trails along about 7,500 acres.

Many supporters, who wore green shirts at the meeting, believe it will spur the economy.

"If we don't get a place for my children and grandchildren to work -- some businesses and things like that -- we're on the way to becoming the Detroit of North Carolina," said Pittsboro resident Billy Hughes.

In all, the consultant gave leaders 41 recommendations to consider.

"I think the next step is to go through those 41 recommendations -- take a look at them all. Decide which ones make sense to us -- which ones don't, and then build ourselves a timetable going forward," said Pittsboro Mayor Bill Terry.

Commissioners will review the recommendations at their next regular meeting.

The mayor says they will then likely schedule a public hearing for a later date.

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