Local News

Town Growth up for Debate in Pittsboro

Posted July 23, 2007 8:20 p.m. EDT

— 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.