Chatham County Halts Large Developments

Fri July 06, 2007 - Southeast Edition
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PITTSBORO, N.C. (AP) Large-scale residential development in Chatham County will be halted for up to a year after county commissioners June 4 unanimously approved a moratorium on projects of 26 or more units.

The five-member board of commissioners imposed the moratorium to ensure the county would be able to handle demands on school space, utilities and other issues, said County Manager Charlie Horne.

The moratorium could be lifted early if the board feels the county is ready for growth, said commissioner George Lucier. It also could be extended, he said. Commercial development and developments in Pittsboro and Siler City are excluded.

“We’re one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina, we’re a historically rural county, and we’re not positioned or prepared ... in terms of our ordinances to handle that growth,” Lucier said.

“Because we’re growing so rapidly we haven’t been able to keep pace with our school construction program,” he added.

Dozens spoke in favor of the moratorium at a public hearing in May. Chatham County and the town of Pittsboro, approximately 30 mi. west of the fast-growing cities of Raleigh and Cary, have approved approximately 15,000 new homes over the last few years.

But as county officials fulfilled a campaign promise to halt development, critics said board members approved the ordinance without sharing a copy of it with opponents.

Frank Thomas, who represents the area Home Builders Association, said he made several requests — including one in writing — for a draft copy of the ordinance and received one only after the vote.

Lucier said officials have been discussing the ordinance publicly for months and that the final version contained no surprises.

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