Cary News: Opinion

Land-use plan balances needs

After nearly seven years the Chatham-Cary joint land-use subcommittee has almost finished its work. The plan covers the area located east of Jordan Lake in Chatham. It’s meant to guide future land-use regulations, infrastructure improvements and development.

There have been more than a dozen draft maps containing revisions and changes from the original. Most changes were made based on input gathered during the public input sessions in 2006, 2009 and 2011. The latest revisions continued the refinement based on (comments from) the landowners in the area and input from the planning boards of Chatham and Cary. In most cases, we were able to accommodate the desires of the current property owners.

Since the beginning, there have been ten guiding principals. One of these principles is the protection of property rights of residents in the area. This was overlooked in the early drafts.

Most of the concerns I’ve heard recently deal with the density east of the “rural service boundary” (RSB) and Jordan Lake protections. Early drafts of the plan allowed for residential densities of no more than one dwelling per five acres west of the RSB. This would have caused a significant negative impact on property owners in the area.

These residents asked that we honor their rights as we had done for all other property owners. They asked that we maintain the current designation of their property – don’t increase or decrease the density. Any reports implying that we are proposing increased density near the lake from what is already allowed are incorrect.

Some believe that these property owners do not have the same rights as those east of the boundary and have submitted petitions asking us to impose additional restrictions on them. When making decisions, it is important that we do not succumb to the desires of any group whose goal is adverse to the rights of others, regardless of the volume of their protests.

I believe we have balanced the rights of the property owners with the other guiding principles of the plan. At this point, the only complaints I’m hearing are from individuals who have asked us to honor their property rights but then ask us to infringe on their neighbors’.

Due to the special nature of Jordan Lake, a set of watershed protection regulations, The Jordan Lake Rules, are in place to protect it. Chatham and Cary have adopted ordinances that meet or exceed these guidelines.

I don’t have space to outline all the requirements for new developments, but among them are additional buffer requirements, impervious surface limitations, erosion and sedimentation regulations, open space requirements, clear-cutting ordinances, and tree and wetlands protection ordinances. These ordinances and others will protect the lake from future development in the area.

The draft document can be found on the Chatham County website.

Brian Bock

Chairman, Chatham County Board of Commissioners

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