Local News

Chatham Leaders Say They're Not Ready for Population Influx

Posted April 4, 2007 8:28 p.m. EDT

— Chatham County commissioners are considering a moratorium on new residential development while they take time to study the county's plans and needs associated with growth.

The county is one of the fastest growing in the North Carolina. About 60,000 people currently live there but the number is expected to double within the next two decades.

The proposed moratorium does not apply to the already-approved developments which are expected to bring 15,000 to 20,000 new houses to the area within the next 10 years.

New proposals would be put on hold.

County Manager Charlie Horne said the county needs to take plan for the growth and look at issues such as emergency services and infrastructure.

"Chatham has no sewer system," Horne said. "So, is that all going to be septic fields? Is it all going to be spray system? How will we manage it if that's the case?"

Nick Tennyson, head of the Homebuilders Association for Durham, Orange and Chatham counties, believes a moratorium is a bad idea and that it can create higher housing prices in the short term.

"When you create a system where you don't know when the next possible replacement house can be built, then anywhere where it's authorized, it is obviously more valuable."

Leaders say the value in Chatham County is its rural character and say they believe a building slowdown will give them time to figure out to preserve it.

A draft of the moratorium might be presented to commissioners at their next meeting on April 16. It would likely be followed up with a public hearing.

Moore County has a similar moratorium under consideration. Other counties, such as Johnston and Carteret, have rejected such plans.