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Chatham County Prepares for Growth as the Triangle Expands

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PITTSBORO — SomeChatham Countyresidents say they live in one of the few unspoiled areas left in the Triangle, and a task force has addressed the concern with a land-use plan to make sure it stays that way.

Even with acres of beauty, Chatham County sits on what many people call the urban-rural fringe.

All over the county, there are signs of new subdivisions and new highways that mean a lot of new people are inbound.

"We're getting pressure from the Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, Cary area," says Keith Megginson, Chatham County's planning director, "And because of the [four lane] roads -- 64, 15-501, 421, and number 1 -- there is a feeling of urgency."

The sense of urgency is about updating Chatham County's Land Conservation and Development Plan. The county is discussing the possibility of targeting certain areas for residential and business growth, creating more green space and instituting countywide zoning.

"One of the main things the plan sets forth is for Chatham County to try to set its own destiny, instead of just reacting to changes that are occurring near and around us," Megginson said.

The county anticipates its zoning plan will get a fair amount of opposition, but there are others who say that it is a step in the right direction.

"Change is going to come eventually, so as long as it is done in an efficient manner, and land isn't wasted, and people aren't put out, then I think that would be fine," says resident Amber Shipman.

No matter what the residents say, the county leaders know there needs to be a dialogue now before the opportunity to maintain the county's natural beauty slips away.

The public hearing on the land-use plan took place at 7 p.m. There will be at least two others meetings before county commissioners approve a final version of the plan this fall.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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