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Town Growth up for Debate in Pittsboro

Posted July 23, 2007

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— A better quality of life or damage to the town of Pittsboro's charm -- that's the debate over a proposed 2-million square-foot retail center in the small Chatham County town.

Pittsboro is one of those towns where you can still find a soda shop, a barber's pole and where the historic courthouse is still the center of it all.

Like many small towns, though, it is seeing rapid growth on all sides that keeps getting closer.

Developers want to build the large retail center — bigger than some found in Cary and Raleigh — in the town limits that includes restaurants, homes and shops.

And that has people talking.

Supporters say it would bring in more traffic and help local businesses.

"I think it's a good idea," said Simon Aguila, who runs a produce stand. "Because people need some jobs around here."

Others argue it would force the town to grow too quickly and ruin its small-town charm.

"It's going to hurt the town in a way that people are going to come in and can't find a parking place," said Garland Neville, who worries the proposed development could be bad for downtown business. "Then, they'll run over to that place."

The entire project would likely take 10 to 15 years to complete, but even that, some argue, is too much too quickly for the area.

"It's about style of life in Chatham County, anyway, and we're not really interested, I don't think, in trying to be another Cary," said restaurant owner Vance Remik.

But business owner William Fields, who sells antiques, said he welcomes the new idea.

"I think it will help around here," he said. "It'll be good for business."

A public meeting to discuss the shopping center was scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Chatham County Courthouse. There, the town was able to weigh in on the issue.

The shopping center is not affected by a yearlong, countywide moratorium on new, large subdivisions.

10 Comments

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  • likemenow Jul 24, 2007

    There are plenty of areas outside of the "downtown charm-ness" of Pittsboro that could be used better for large-scale development. Leave downtown the way it is and people will come for that alone.

  • Nobody but Carolina Jul 24, 2007

    We're seeing good growth in Wendell, residentially speaking. We could stand a bit more retail and restaurant wise though. At this point with all that is going on in Zebulon and Knighdale in particular with large retail growth, I'd like to see Wendell angle in on the "Mom and Pop" niche, particularly in the downtown area.

  • myidea Jul 24, 2007

    I live in Youngsville, and it is a very small town. I love to see the growth around here. The people who live here like to see their property values go up also, but don't want newcomers to take over. If their old neighbors wouldn't sell their land then there would be newcomers, so blame your "friends". Also, ask them when they moved there. Some haven't been there 10 years, not a lifetime. So they don't have a leg to stand on either. Furthermore, it is like maturemannc was getting at - they don't mind growth as long as it is the ones there growing.

  • curmudgeon1 Jul 24, 2007

    Those of you that are trying to stop growth are the proverbial Don Quixote tilting at windmills. There is an old definition of a "conservationist": He's someone who built his house last year.

    Many times that's the case with those who say they really don't want growth - they just don't want ANY MORE growth. For example, Vance Remick is quoted in the above story as being against this new venture. You might think he's against growth? Au contraire; Vance owns the General Store Cafe in Pittsboro. Ask him what's new in his business and he'll tell you he's DOUBLING the size of his restaurant. Could it be that, like others, he really just wants growth that will help him and he's not really so interested in the "rural life style".

    My best advice? Get over it and learn to control the growth to the best advantage we can for everyone. You're not going to stop it unless you take away one citizen's right to sell his property to another citizen.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Jul 24, 2007

    I was actually in attendance at the meeting last night. A lot of the opposition to this project that I heard was laughable. People seem to think that an industrial park would be more beneficial than the mixed use area. If you want to talk polution, etc., I would think an industrial site would do more harm than good.

    Having worked at industrial facilities before, one of the things that I enjoyed was having places to go to have lunch, get some shopping & other errands done. If Pittsboro wants a build industrial sites, then the employees at those facilities will need places to shop.

    Plus, as I understand last night's meeting, it was a rezoning issue. If the shopping area doesn't get built there, then something else that is more polluting and more ugly will be built it its stead.

    It seems that people want the convenience progress without it spoiling their backyard. For folks who truly want a rural life style, might I suggest you move to Clinton, Warsaw, Farmville, or Bunnlevel, NC.

  • wrkmnjnc Jul 24, 2007

    If people want what is already available in Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, etc., let them go there and save Pittsboro for those who appreciate and enjoy a decent lifestyle. Cary was a nice place to live when I moved there in 1979 -- not any more!!!!!

  • luv2surffish Jul 24, 2007

    cival war has been over for looong time and the carpet baggers still coming.. we need a fence on the mexico boarder and the mason dixon line... :)

  • Adelinthe Jul 24, 2007

    If they do this, they'll turn into another Cary - something no one wants.

    If you don't like the beauty and charm of safe downtowns and lovely mom and pop stores, don't move to a town that has little else.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Jokers Wild II Jul 24, 2007

    GoneFishin - I agree, however gone are the days when everyone wanted to go to the "mom and pops" stores, hence Cary and Apex. Most people now want more shops, more selection, and faster service. Its terrible that alot of people have lost business to the bigger chains but it is "free enterprise" and I do not fault any company for becoming big and successful. If I was running a Store, I would want to expand and make it into a "wal-mart" like chain before I struggled my whole life, and then had to sell it because I couldnt compete with them..

  • Offshore Jul 24, 2007

    If you build the big mall, say goodbye to the small town charm, the barber poles, and soda shops as they will fall to the wayside. The area will become insane like Cary and Apex have become. Hate to go to Apex anymore, too much traffic.