Local News

Chatham Park gets green light from Pittsboro commissioners

Posted June 9, 2014 7:18 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2014 6:10 a.m. EDT

— The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Monday evening to approve a rezoning request allowing the controversial Chatham Park development project, which would increase the town’s population by over 1900 percent, to move forward.

Commissioner Bett Wilson Foley was the only dissenting vote.

The project, a multi-use development of homes, businesses, research space and parks that would encompass more than 7,000 acres between the east side of Pittsboro and Jordan Lake, is expected to be completed in phases over 30 years by Cary-based Preston Development.

The massive development, three times Pittsboro’s current area and equivalent to the size of Research Triangle Park, is expected to increase the town’s population from 3,000 to more than 60,000 residents.

Chatham Park, which has been in the works for years, was put on hold in November after commissioners tabled a vote to approve the rezoning recommendation from the town’s planning department.

The rezoning approval comes after months of public hearings and debates, where residents for and against the project expressed their views in meetings lasting long into the night.

Proponents say the project would boost the local economy and bring more jobs to the area. Opponents believe the development would strain local resources and eradicate Pittsboro’s small town feel.

In a February presentation, a consulting group hired by commissioners to review the project's master plan said it “lacks a coherent vision and the necessary performance standards to implement that vision,” but added that, in general, projects of this size can be well designed.

The group offered a few recommendations, including more details regarding design standards and imagery, and striving for 40 percent open space.

"There's some middle ground and that's what I've been trying to find," said Commissioner Beth Turner during Monday's meeting. "The revisions to the master plan, as per the consultant, have been good."

Foley, the dissenting commissioner, wanted homes spaced at one per five acres instead of one per acre as outlined in the plan. His request was not supported by other commissioners.

Chatham Park will consist of 27 sections with five activity centers “that serve as convenient, accessible service and retail destinations for surrounding neighborhoods,” according to the development’s master plan.

The effort, according to the plan, would require significant investment from Pittsboro and Chatham County, including expanding water and sewer service, building new schools, improving roads and highways and expanding police and fire services.

Preston Development expects to break ground on an UNC Health Care medical office building within 60 days. Home construction may not happen for at least 18 months, the developer said.