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Growth Gives Chatham Commissioners Pause, So They Pause Growth

Posted June 4, 2007
Updated June 5, 2007

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— Chatham county is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. That is a concern to county commissioners, who worry they don't have the infrastructure and services to deal with it all.

So, they said Monday that it is time for a time-out.

The commissioners voted unanimously to impose a moratorium for up to a year on residential subdivisions with 25 or more building lots or housing units. It will not affect 15,000 to 20,000 new homes already in the pipeline and in line to be built over the next 10 years.

The moratorium does not affect land in the planning jurisdictions of Pittsboro, Siler City and Cary.

“We will use this period to take a close look at our land-use ordinances and see what we need to adjust so that we develop our county responsibly,” said Carl Thompson, commissioners chairman.

Proposals submitted to the Planning Department before May 8 will be unaffected, commissioners said.

County leaders say the temporary halt on development is the responsible thing to do.

Chatham has no sewer system, a school system that's already feeling the squeeze and emergency services that moratorium proponents argue could be stretched too thin by rapid growth. They also said there is not enough housing that working-class residents can afford.

The commissioners said they plan to hire consultants and have staff look at what needs to be done in order to grow while keeping the rural charm for which Chatham is known.

Builders see the moratorium as a mistake, saying it sends the message that Chatham County doesn't want people to move in.


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  • 2late Jun 5, 2007

    RE:" What they really need to do is develop an equitable way ...."...equitable meaning fair?...when was the last time a developer was fair with a buyer?

  • tc35d Jun 5, 2007

    chatham co. is doing the right thing here, by taking a step back and looking at how to grow smarter not just GROW. Unlike western CARY, were the developers have made it look like New Jersey, with houses less than 4' from each other and lakes and streams filled with mud and silt.

    Whomever says Chatham is closing doors by doing this, is just too greedy. Chatham doesn't have the population or the base that Wake does to support sudden growth, and when Cary wants to move into your backyard, you gotta say "Whoa!!"

    Way to go Mr. Thompson and Co., keep up the good work.

  • naturegirl Jun 5, 2007

    There must be a lot of new residents to the Wake/Cary areas who are posting on this topic or else ya’ll have short memories. Cary elected Mayor Glen Lang during a ‘slow-growth’ phase and he was skewered by everyone before he finally got fed up and decided not to run for re-election. And then Caryites voted in the current slate (mayor and council members) who they knew are pro-development supporters. You get what you vote for and if you don’t vote you don’t have a say in what happens to your community (and the same can be said for Wake voters). I say bravo to the residents of Chatham County who have the courage to show up on voting day and elect people who also have the courage to actually represent the best interests of their communities. Instead, it seems ya’ll just want to whine about it. What would you tell your kids if they whined incessantly about something they had the power to change – you’d tell them to keep up and get it done.

  • richard2 Jun 5, 2007

    Whats the problem, just raise taxes!

  • Nope Jun 5, 2007

    Wake needs to impose an impact fee on new construction, and also not hand out permits like candy. Do they ever refuse a massive development?

  • bill0 Jun 5, 2007

    Economically, this is a really stupid decision. It will just distort the housing market upward until people eventually get fed up and allow more growth. There is obviously something to be said for planned growth, but a total stop isn't in anyone's best interest. What they really need to do is develop an equitable way for builders and new home buyers to offset some of the costs of the growth.

  • Doctor Dataclerk Jun 5, 2007



  • tomsusie Jun 5, 2007

    Finally, people in power who seem to know how to use it. I am extremely glad to hear this news - We don't want Chatham to turn into another Wake/Cary. One of the bright spots of Chatham is it's rural setting. Overbuilding will only destroy that which brought us all here to begin with. So Hooray for Chatham's decision to regroup before moving on.

  • SaveEnergyMan Jun 5, 2007

    With Chatham County's example, perhaps we will all learn that "growth pays for itself" is the biggest lie perpetrated upon the citizens by politicians in the last 30 years. The article and comments mention roads and schools. Those can be eventually built. Water supplies are a fixed quantity - based on the watershed size of the lakes we have. Making a lake deeper does not help, there is only so much rain that can fall and flow into the lake. Growth should be tied to water supplies, which are already too tight. More development can only come if people learn to conserve resources.

    Developers are running away with the profits, leaving us (long time) residents holding the bag.

  • srjbdl Jun 5, 2007

    As a resident of Chatham County for many years, I only have one comment:

    Why is it that people move into Chatham (development) and very quickly become anti-development? These same people who elect officials who want to "control development" are the same people who protest new industry. So, we get no new tax base to contribute to all the new services these newcomers are demanding and we don't have jobs in the county for those who have been here forever. Where does that lead us? Blue collar workers having to commute 40 miles to get jobs to help pay for higher taxes that are caused by all the people who want their cake and to eat it to.