Local News

Growth Gives Chatham Commissioners Pause, So They Pause Growth

Posted June 4, 2007 7:52 p.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2007 12:51 p.m. EDT

— 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.