Non-farm taxpayers benefit from Chatham’s unzoned open space

by John R Dykers

Siler City, NC – Jeff Meredith clearly presented the fears that many of us in previously unzoned areas of the county are experiencing with the increased conversation about zoning. Jeff mentioned the ‘history of property rights’, indicating his recognition that at one time there were no personal property rights and there are many places in the world today where they are essentially nonexistent. It requires a government functional enough to protect those rights; ask any refugee. Jeff listed himself as “Pittsboro,” so I don’t know whether he is a farmer or not. So I may be writing about his post from an entirely different paradigm than his, but I have been a registered Republican since 1951.

Farmland and woodsJason Sullivan (Director of Planning for the County), B.J. Copeland (Planning Board Chairman), and Hilary Pace met with the Agriculture Advisory Board last week and we had a long talk about land use planning and zoning and shared a lot of information.

The big take a way for me was how zoning does not prescribe how we will use our land, how agriculture/residential is essentially the ‘default’ position, and how much zoning can protect our present land use from infringement by new users next door.

With all the growth projected for the eastern part of the county, zoning may be more urgent there where people are crowded more closely together. Zoning may not be as urgent in the western parts of the county where we have more elbow room.

All of us farming should make our application to be in the Voluntary Ag District so our farm is recognized as such and newcomers will be aware of that.. Realtors should make it a point to have a map for new buyers that shows the farms registered as such. Last time I asked the members of the Livestock Association most all of us wanted to keep farming rather than sell out to a developer. To do that we need to protect our agribusiness infrastructure (Carolina Stockyards and our tractor companies and agriculture supply companies) and our land use tax valuation for LEGIT farmers. Non-farm taxpayers benefit from our open space and low use of tax-paid services. Seems a mutually beneficial tradeoff to me.