Residents worry how Chatham development will impact Pittsboro - WNCN: News, Weather

Residents worry how Chatham Co. development will impact Pittsboro

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A proposed 7,100-acre development on the edge of Pittsboro has some people concerned about its impact on the small, rural Chatham County town. A proposed 7,100-acre development on the edge of Pittsboro has some people concerned about its impact on the small, rural Chatham County town.
PITTSBORO, N.C. -

A proposed 7,100-acre development on the edge of Pittsboro has some people concerned about its impact on the small, rural Chatham County town.

Developers envision Chatham Park as a place where 55,000 people can live and work. While many in Pittsboro are not opposed to the concept, they fear the project would overwhelm their town and destroy its character.

"I'm concerned about the town and Chatham County being able to handle that sort of thing," said longtime Pittsboro resident Dan Clower.

With a population of about 4,000, Pittsboro's a quintessential small town, and citizens don't want to give that up.

"Pittsboro is a rural little community 15 minutes away from everything," explained resident Dave Meyer. "When we moved to Pittsboro 4 years ago to retire because we wanted that rural feel, that rural taste, that's what we have here today."

The project is the vision of Preston Development, which along with billionaire investor Jim Goodnight, has spent close to a decade buying up the land in the area that'll make up the region's newest technology park.

Greg Lewis, who owns the Roadhouse Restaurant in town, said he wants to make sure the downtown area doesn't suffer as Chatham Park grows next door.

"Pittsboro is known for its arts, known for its creativity," Lewis said. "It's different than any other town and needs to be protected."

A citizen group formed 2 months ago said it isn't opposed to the project, but it want some say in how Chatham Park is developed.

"Bring in some outside experts, because this will be the largest master-planned community in the history of North Carolina," said Jeffery Starkweather with Pittsboro Matters.

Starkweather said the town has promised Pittsboro Matters will have input, but Pittsboro's town manager said he's not sure exactly how that will be accomplished yet because the town hasn't figured out the review process for town commissioners. Still, Town Manager Brian Gruesbeck worries how the project will impact Pittsboro's infrastructure.

"It's infrastructure is old," Gruesbeck said in July. "We're trying to make sure we have sufficient infrastructure for our current citizens and businesses, and we also have to plan forward."

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Steve Sbraccia

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