Controversial Pittsboro development draws hours of debate, no action

Posted November 25, 2013 11:35 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2013 12:51 a.m. EST

— After hours of public debate, the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners on Monday tabled a vote that would allow a massive development project known as Chatham Park to move forward.

Dozens of citizens attended the meeting to share their thoughts about the controversial, multi-use development that has been in the works for years. Chatham Park would cover more than 7,000 acres on the east side of town.

The project has already received a rezoning recommendation from Pittsboro's planning department and needed a nod from the commissioners to go forward. But around midnight, the board voted 4-1 to table action, with Commissioner Michael A. Fiocco dissenting.

Cary-based Preston Development, which is behind the project, said Chatham Park will be completed in phases and eventually increase Pittsboro’s population from 3,000 to 60,000.

“I see the opportunity to engage the future and build a project over the next 30 to 40 years,” Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller said. “I understand the concerns of some in the community, and I ask that you continue to engage the process through new channels that will become open and help the town and Chatham Park create a community that is the envy of the Southeast.”

But residents voiced concern.

"The developers will simply do what they wish, regardless of the concerns of the town,” Mary Lucas said.

Worried residents want to make sure the town can control how the development will look, and they are concerned that adding so many people could hurt local water sources.

“You cannot put 55,000 people between here and those waters without tremendous negative impact,” said Elaine Chiosso with the nonprofit Haw River Assembly.

Business owners said they need those new residents, and builders for the proposed development also said Chatham Park would be good for the local economy.

“I need people coming through my door,” said Heather Johnson, who owns Chatham Business Services

Many of those who spoke said they just want town leaders to slow down.

“I am not against it, but I really love this town and I want the character of this town to remain,” Efrain Ramirez said.