This town argued for a year about a developer’s plan to build a city here, with hundreds of people attending meeting after meeting, until a tense 4-1 vote in June set the Chatham Park project rolling.
It will be déjà vu all over again Monday as the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners takes up the 7,000-plus acre plan again.
“It is a new rezoning case and a new master plan,” said Philip Culpepper, a consultant for Preston Development Co., though it looks a lot like the project the town approved five months ago.
The difference: about 48 acres and a handful of sentences. In order to add land and revise parts of the master plan, Preston Development and Chatham Park Investors are taking the entire project through Town Hall again.
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A local advocacy group, Pittsboro Matters, claims its lawsuit regarding Chatham Park sent the project back to the planning board. The suit claims in part that the public didn’t get proper notice about some meetings and changes in the proposal.
“I think that ... we obviously had legitimate claims, or they wouldn’t be going to this effort to respond to them,” said Jeffery Starkweather, an organizer for the group.
But developer Tim Smith says the new submission is a routine way to make tweaks.
“We were going to bring this project in anyway,” Smith said. “Has the lawsuit affected the way we looked at things? Yes. We made dag-gone sure there were no deficiencies in anything – but the lawsuit was not the impetus.”
The new proposal adds six properties, patching holes in the development map. It also alters the formatting or content of a few sentences in the previously approved documents.
One addition is a paragraph that spells out the process by which developer and government would hash out details such as the timing of build-out and street lighting.
With the new submission comes two full-page ads in the local newspaper, new signs around the project site and notifications to its neighbors, all announcing the new hearing.
“We believe we’ve addressed some of the issues that were raised in the notification process, and we’re making sure that the public is very much aware of the application,” Culpepper said.
The new plan and rezoning should go from the Board of Commissioners to the Planning Board, before returning for a vote by commissioners in coming months.
“This is a brand new rezoning – a brand new master plan – and that means that it’s open for any input,” Starkweather said, raising the possibility that the town could demand new conditions. Pittsboro Matters wants to see more protections for Jordan Lake, among other changes.
The project’s earlier approval will still apply even if the new vote fails.