Notes from the Chatham Park presentation at the July 20 school board meeting


Pittsboro, NC – For the July 20 Chatham County school board meeting, Del Turner was on the phone. Jane Allen Wilson arrived a few minutes late, coming from an event for Judge Carl Fox. There were a number of community members in attendance, including Angela Millsaps, John Williamson, John Hunter (Chatham News), Michael Mansour, Bill Harper, Michael Fiocco (Pittsboro town commissioner), Karen Howard (Chatham County commissioner), Gina Harrison, George Gregor-Holt, and Mia Munn.

Thales Academy is the first planned school for Chatham Park.

Thales Academy is the first planned school for Chatham Park.

Tim Smith made a presentation on Chatham Park. The presentation was videotaped, and will be posted on the district website within a few days. The first slide said “Good Schools = Economic Growth” and “Economic Growth = Jobs.  The goal of Chatham Park is a Live Work Play community. Schools are bait to draw good jobs. Chatham Park will be presenting a small area plan to the town in August, but wanted to share the information on schools with the school board first. They worked with the district’s consultants Or/Ed) to develop projections of school needs as a result of the development. They expect that district schools, charters, and private schools will all be included in Chatham Park as it is built out. He played a video about 12 minutes long. Some highlights from the video:

  • Three miles of river frontage, 600 acres of parks, 50 miles of trails
  • Four to five village centers each about the size of Pittsboro
  • Info on some earlier planned developments (The Woodlands TX, Reston VA, )
  • Projections – 100K permanent jobs as a result of Chatham Park
  • Solar farm to power 2,400 homes
  • 10 year phases – current plans will only project details for first 10 years

Current construction –

o   Bridge being built across 64 bypass will connect North section (initial build) with South section (larger, later build). Includes a 10 foot bike and pedestrian path.
o   25,000 sq ft UNC medical building (specialty practices) behind Bojangles to open Dec 2015
o   Ten bed UNC Hospice (to expand to 20 bed when needed) just broke ground; to open Feb 2016; all donated money
o   Two 8,000 sq ft office buildings in front of UNC medical building almost leased. Chatham Park office and other businesses

  • Purchased additional 1,000 acres (Townsend Chicken/Pittsboro Moncure Rd).
  • North area will include 5k housing units; of that 1500 will be townhomes
  • Total (North and South) will include 22,000 housing units built out over 30-40 years. Mix of housing affects school population projections.

o   6,000 age-targeted (senior citizen?)
o   4,000 apartments (1400 1 bedroom; 2600 2-3 bedroom)
o   12,000 single family or town homes

Grade level – # of students – Size of school – # of schools

  • K-5 – 4,109 – 650 – 6.3
  • 6-8 – 1,142 – 850 – 1.3
  • 9-12 – 2,351 – 1500 – 1.5

(Math doesn’t seem to work. There should be more middle school students. I could have made a mistake with the total, but the number of schools agrees with the # of students. Fewer students per grade for high school than elementary makes sense, but I would expect, based on elementary and high school, that there would be more like 1,760 middle school students. Or the overall mix would be different.) Totals above are 7,602. Ending 2014/15 Chatham County Schools’ enrollment was 8,305.

  • The first planned school is a K-12 private school, Thales Academy (article in last week’s Chatham News). They have several Wake county campuses. School will be on Thompson Street, opening with elementary grades in 2 years (for 2015/18 school year). Total with all grades will be 950 students.
  • Also plan elementary site in north section.
  • Four elementary sites, one site with elementary and middle school in South section. Potential high school site where Townsends Chicken is
  • School sites co-located with parks.
  • Sites/sizes/locations can be changed based on school board direction and actual growth
  • YMCA in North Section


Melissa Hlavic: Source of projections?

From NC averages, work with Or/Ed, Wake County averages. Have not shown to town –  wanted school board to see first

MH: How describe character of Pittsboro?

Difficult to answer. Unique, small, rural. Don’t want to emulate, but fit in. High tech, open spaces, Live Work Play. Most common comment “Not Cary.”

Jane Allen Wilson: more about the consultants?

Developer has history of building large communities, so that was one input. Worked with Chatham County Schools’ consultants on school population, Or/Ed (out of NC State)  similar to previous numbers for students per household in Chatham. Wake County and Chatham County info on size of schools (population and acreage). Chatham currently has few one bedroom apartments. Millennials prefer 1 bedroom. Tracked other apartment projects for numbers of students per one bedroom unit – usually <0.1.

JAW: so focusing on Millennials?

No, mix of housing and ages.

David Hamm: explain difference between apartment, condo, townhouse.

  • Apartments – multi-family, rent
  • Condo – multi-family, own
  • Townhouse – smaller, grouped/attached, own
  • Single family, other models (patio homes).

Mixture. About 25% apartments.

DH: Affordable housing?

Not ready to speak to those plans yet, but there will be some percentage of affordable housing. Not sure of impact on school projections.

MH: work with us on locations?

Yes. Do want to co-locate with parks, Y, etc, unless board objects. So that is where plan shows them.

Del Turner: What kinds of schools?

Projections are for number of students. Mix of types of schools. Private school in place before any housing. Schools are a drawing point (bait for jobs). Chatham Park to pay $3,500 per house as built to cover services, including schools.

DT: Transportation to schools?

Chatham Park won’t specifically contribute to school transportation.. $3,500 fee. Locate schools near population in Chatham Park to minimize transportation needs

MH: Traffic plan

Working with consultant and NC Department of Transportation. Look at Chatham Park needs and volume, as well as Pittsboro and Chatham County, and movement through area. Road sizes in plan based on models.

DH: 15 years ago, DOT said the bypass would alleviate congestion in Pittsboro

Talk to DOT, but not just DOT. Multiple inputs into plans. Have to align with DOT plans

MH: Types of schools?

Not just one solution. Have talked to Catholic Diocese; interest in Catholic school, but long lead time.

MH: Is Thales Academy a national chain?

No, but have multiple schools in this area

JAW: Why Thales?

Their experience. Good feedback and successful schools. Not for everyone, but will be a marketing point (choice of schools). Experience working with Thales in development in Apex. Thales can fully fund (without fund-raising) building to open in two years. Chatham Park is looking for commitments from schools, businesses, retail. Things that will be built soon. There could be more than one private or charter school. They will work with anyone who will provide quality education. Chatham County Schools are excellent. Need to get the word out.

David Hamm: Loss to private schools outside of county now. Chatham County Schools hasn’t had direct competition. Looked into Thales. They are good. Game-changer for the district.

Not for everyone. No athletics, cafeterias. Competition is good. A rising tide lifts all boats.

JAW: Lots of people concerned about Chatham Park building on Piedmont forest. Elementary schools on plan are by parks. Is that a trade-off with green spaces?

Schools don’t count in open space or park requirements. one acre per 33 housing units open. Schools are in addition to this. When schools, parks, churches, etc are co-located, need fewer parking lots/less impervious surface. Schools don’t have to be near parks. Final locations are up to the board.

JAW: High school not by parks ” shouldn’t it be?

High school site is outside of Chatham Park (townsend chicken). Could move the location of the high school. Could provide park land.

Dr. Jordan: What is the financial impact to the county of co-locating schools and parks?

That is open for discussion. Chatham Park could donate land. But need a commitment that facilities will be built.

Gary Leonard: So you won’t donate for land banking, but you will for immediate needs.


MH: Prep land for schools?

Bring water, sewer, access road.

DJ: Some people say the district should have broken ground on a new high school two years ago.

Chatham Park won’t have an occupied house for two years. Won’t need a school for at least 4-5 years. Providing land for private school for immediate need, before new population. Chatham County Schools is not behind in building schools for Chatham Park. Locations are not fixed; can be moved. Planning document. Less detail on South sections. As building occurs (10 year plans) get more specific. North section first; more specifics now.

DJ: Location and size affected by types of schools

GL: People say you do a good job in development. What is your advice for the school board?

1.       Meet (CP and Board) every year. Communicate. Chatham Park not only development in the county. Regular meetings with administration/staff.

2.       Get the word out about the good schools here. Recent discussion with 400 person heaquarters for a company – first question was about the schools.

3.       Start working on layouts for schools and parks. Chatham Park will provide (free) help with site plans.

Communication: Chatham Park is really looking at schools to drive economic growth.

DH: Look at downtown Apex – positive impact of Preston developers

MH: Will you help us with marketing?

Yes. Already donated $5,000 of consulting. Work with realtors to tell story of schools. Chatham County Schools is part of Chatham Park’s marketing efforts.


Carolina Meadows donates $150,000 to support new hospice home in Chatham Park

Chapel Hill, NC – Carolina Meadows has donated $150,000 to support the development of the new hospice home of UNC Health Care facility planned for the new Chatham Park development in Pittsboro, N.C.

UNC Hospice Home

Artist’s rendering of the SECU Jim & Betsy Bryan Hospice Home of UNC Health Care in Chatham County, NC.

The campaign to construct a custom-built inpatient facility serving patients and their families at the end of life was launched in 2014 after UNC Health Care received authorization from the state of North Carolina. Dr. James Bryan II, a retired UNC physician, led the campaign to raise $4.7 million to construct the 11,000-square-foot, ten-bed facility. The completion of Hospice Home in Chatham County represents the fulfillment of Bryan’s many years of dedication to the concept of dignity at the end of life, made possible by the hospice movement.

UNC Hospice has been serving patients in Chatham County and surrounding communities continuously with in-home services since 1984 from offices in Pittsboro and Chapel Hill. In 1999, it became part of UNC Health Care, operating as UNC Hospice. In offering home-based hospice services, it provides a continuum of care that takes into account each patient’s specific medical, emotional and spiritual needs. Patients and families receive comprehensive support from an integrated team of caregivers, including skilled nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, pastoral and grief counselors and trained volunteers.

“The new Hospice Home of UNC Health Care will help to fill a large void in our region, since there currently is no licensed hospice inpatient facility in Chatham County,” said Amy Gorely, director of strategic initiatives and outreach for Carolina Meadows. “Having a resource like this close by will be a wonderful service and support for families throughout Chatham County and other neighboring communities.”

The new Hospice Home of UNC Health Care facility will be constructed on two acres of wooded land near major road access. The facility will provide a comfortable, home-like environment, including 10 private rooms, each with its own outdoor patio. The new building also will include all the services and amenities that will make patients and families feel at home, including a kitchen, dining room, meditation space, family visiting areas and children’s play room.

Two of the rooms – the reception and waiting areas – will carry the Carolina Meadows name in recognition of the Chapel Hill-based retirement community’s financial support of the project. Both areas will be hubs of activity for patients, family members, visitors, staff and volunteers as they enter the new building.

“The commitment Carolina Meadows has made to our new facility will ensure that future generations of patients and their families will experience the end of life surrounded by beauty, support and compassionate care, affording them a peaceful and dignified journey,” said Ann Braun, President of the Medical Foundation of North Carolina, an affiliate of UNC Health Care.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Hospice Home facility was held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14 at Chatham Park, located on Suttles Road in Pittsboro.

Some don’t see the signs of Chatham Park’s hollow talk

by Mary Phyllis Horn

Pittsboro, NC – Oh Randy Voller, your short article in “Chatham County Line” is so gullible!

Or are you following what used to be called a “gentleman’s agreement” as was the custom up until the mid 1800s?  Meaning that what a gentleman says is what he’ll do?  Well, that’s no longer the case in this day and age.  Just reflect on what we see on TV so prevalently now: all those authoritatively sounding “talking-heads” and politicians and heads of corporations spouting what they will do.Then later look at their contradictory actions.


Photo via Conservation Fund.

Well, it’s the same thing with Chatham Park developers. They talk all those pretty sounding words that we environmentally-conscious people hold so dear. But then we look at what they did to Cary and are in the process of doing to Apex. They touted Reston, VA (if my memory serves me correctly, that’s the town) as the design they’ll put here in Pittsboro. Anyone who has ever been to Reston will know what a mess it is there.  We see that their pretty sounding words are hollow, in the face of what they have already said they’ll do for us and the contradictions their previous actions have proved.

This reminds me of a posting I saw for a month this spring. It was on the Baptist Church’s sign on Salisbury Street in Pittsboro: “People may question your words, but they will always believe your actions.”

We see the signs of Chatham Park’s hollow talk when we see little to no design changes to the original master plan.  After all, “no” action is really an action of saying “no” to what we request. That has happened at least three times if not more. Their resistance tells us that their true intentions are between them and their compatriots and the four Pittsboro town commissioners who are on board with them.  hey are not with those of us who truly care about preserving the environment and our current beautiful  way of life in Pittsboro.  Of course people begin to cry “corruption.” The signs of it are all over the proverbial “writing on the wall.”  We believe what they have already acted, not what their pretty words voice.

Randy Voller – and others who believe likewise – we are no longer in the day and age of the Gentleman’s Agreement.  To think that is to be naive and gullible.  These days, nothing can be counted on unless it’s in writing. In the circumstances with Chatham Park, it must be written into a contract with the town.

Pittsboro Matters throws a temper tantrum over Chatham Park

by Jack Stevens

Pittsboro, NC – At the Monday, June 22 meeting of the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners, I heard much of the same unsubstantiated implied accusations of corruption of the Pittsboro board members concerning the Chatham Park development by Pittsboro Matters members that Virginia Penley did.  More than one of them brought up the four points: 1) support was made under some sort of duress;  2) a complete failure to understand what was happening; 3) something was discussed behind closed doors, which is illegal; and/or 4) corruption. And of those that did, almost everyone stated that the kickbacks – always option number 4 – was illegal, stated as if they personally had uncovered evidence of that.

Chatham Coalition leader Jeff Starkweather

Pittsboro Matters curmudgeon Jeff Starkweather.

I put it down to adults acting like little kids throwing a temper tantrum because they weren’t getting their way, but those were pretty strong implied accusations.

The audio stream you mentioned – the official town record – can be found here.

The video I did of the meeting is not the official record; it’s just one citizen’s recording. There is no editing other than to remove pre- and post-meeting noise. The video is available for viewing on YouTube –

Pittsboro Matters claims 600 members, which is only about 15 per cent of the town’s population.  I know at least one of those 600 “members” is someone who signed up just to get their newsletters so as to more easily keep track of their claims and activities, not because I, uh, I mean he, agrees with them. I am sure there are others.

The claim by one member that he knows of no native born Pittsboro resident that is for Chatham Park just means he only talks within his small circle of cronies. I know a local business owner who lived in Pittsboro since she was born that said she just wished those trust fund babies would give up and let others have some of the good life and the jobs that Chatham Park will bring.

Pittsboro Matters misbehaving in the civic arena

by Virginia Penley

Pittsboro, NC – On Monday night I attended the Pittsboro Town Board meeting and on Tuesday night I attended the Main Street update for the downtown at the Roadhouse.

The agenda on Monday included a public hearing for the third PDD rezoning of Chatham Park as well as information on the FY 2015-2016 budget and a presentation by the Wooten Company with the town’s engineer, Fred Royal, on waste water, the treatment plant and issues with storm water infiltration.

I was struck by the disconnect in the messages delivered to the Town Board by the two sides, Pittsboro Matters and Chatham Park. Each speaker was limited to a three minute address by the presiding officer Mayor Pro-Tem Pamela Baldwin. (Bill Terry, the Town’s mayor was absent.)

Chatham Park had their whole team in attendance, if needed, but only one person, Tim Smith, spoke for Chatham Park.

From what I could discern, Tim Smith promised to complete a detailed Small Area Plan by August which would be submitted for approval to the board for all areas of Chatham Park located north of Hwy 64. He also stated that some of these plans would be outlined later to the board in great detail, with numbers, facts and options, all detailed and described. Today’s Chatham Record has a summary of some his statements.

Former Mayor Randy Voller also spoke and entered into the public record the current economic profile of Chatham County from the Budget and Tax Center in Raleigh, which is connected to the NC Justice Center.

A few Pittsboro Matters people spoke for their allotted three minutes.

Many of the leaders and apparently primary donors to the group said directly to the board that since they (Pittsboro Matters) were so opposed to the board’s approval of Chatham Park, they could only assume four possible motives for the board members to have voted their approval in the past.

Many of their assumptions were extremely insulting and can be easily heard online by checking the audio of the meeting that Pittsboro posts on its website and likely from any videos local citizen Jack Stevens shot of the meeting.

The possible motives Pittsboro Matters assumed from the elected leaders was that 1) support was made under some sort of duress;  2) a complete failure to understand what was happening; 3) something was discussed behind closed doors, which is illegal; and/or 4) corruption.

This broadside attack on the Town Board members for their support of the Chatham Park PDD and rezoning in the past was directed at Mayor Pro-Tem, and Town Commissioners Pam Baldwin, Mike Fiocco, Beth Turner and Jay Farrell.

It was an attack short on facts and figures, but long on character assassination.

Chatham Coalition leader Jeff Starkweather

Jeff Starkweather attempts to browbeat his political opponents once again. Unsuccessfully.

In addition, both Mr. Jeff Starkweather and Ms. Reid ignored the presiding officer, Pamela Baldwin and spoke right over her when asked to finish their input. That can be heard on the town’s audio of the meeting, too.

What I found so striking was that after the verbal shanking at Ye Old Town Hall, the small Pittsboro Matters group decided to quaff a beverage at the City Tap and avoid actually listening to boring presentations that answered several of their questions and assertions.

On Tuesday I attended the lovely presentation at the Pittsboro Road House and hoped that in the spirit of community and working together I would see Jeff and others in the crowd learning about an exciting design through the Main Street program and asking questions, but my hopes were dashed. I did see a lot of business owners and citizens, a few town commissioners, and folks from Chatham Park, but other than Sonny Keisler I did not see any leaders of Pittsboro Matters.

In summary, I fail to see how name calling and defamation will move the needle and bring our community together for a common purpose and vision.

I don’t expect everyone to agree or even reach a mutual consensus, but civil behavior and willingness to listen and learn would make a good starting point.