PITTSBORO: Independent review criticizes Chatham Park plan - WNCN: News, Weather

Independent review criticizes Chatham Park plan

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PITTSBORO, N.C. -

Town commissioners in Pittsboro are pumping the brakes on a massive new development that could transform Chatham County from rural countryside into a technology hub.

If approved, Chatham Park could bring thousands of jobs and 55,000 new residents to a town that now only has about 4,000 residents. Some have called the plans similar to the Research Triangle Park, where people can live and work in the same community.

Craig Lewis, a Charlotte-based independent consultant charged with reviewing the Chatham Park master plan, told commissioners on Monday night the plan had "significant deficiencies" and "lacked a coherent vision."

In his findings, Lewis said the plan was centered too far to the east, needed more east-west roads, and needed to pay more attention to the need for fire departments and schools.

Back in November, commissioners sought an outside consultant to review the plan after some in the community complained commissioners were rushing the project through without thorough review.

Randy Voller, who was then mayor and who remains the state Democratic Party chairman, was a proponent of taking a vote at the time without further review.

Monday night, Lewis recommended about 40 changes to the master plan before the 7,000 acre development moves forward.  Commissioners said they'll vote on every one of those recommendations and offer up another round of public comment.  It's a process that could take a few weeks, months or even years.

"Somewhere in the middle there's probably a happy medium where we can all be comfortable," Mayor Bill Terry said.

A packed auditorium listened on inside the old historic courthouse. 

"I would say it was a major victory for citizens who said, 'This is our town,'" said Jeffrey Starkweather, with a group called Pittsboro Matters. 

He supports slowing down the project.

"You're planning the future of our town and we, as citizens, all the citizens, should have a say in that future," Starkweather said.

But others are more supportive.

Local restaurant owner Donna Bianco said, "We look forward to our property values increasing and having something to leave our children."

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Derick Waller

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