The rush in on to zone all of Chatham County before the November elections

By Raymond Gastwaite

Goldston, NC – I attended the Goldston community input session for the long-range planning committee put on by the Chatham County Long-Range Planning Committee. Did you attend? No, I didn’t think so, based on the turnout. You could have attended any time between 5 and 7 pm, and you gave up an opportunity to have a say in the county’s direction. There were maybe 30 citizens at the Goldston meeting.

chatham comprehensive planTrusted sources tell me that turnout was low across the three sessions at Pittsboro, Chapel Hill, and Goldston. Sources also tell me that the Pittsboro session included posters and information about zoning in the County. Apparently that generated so much interest that it was not presented at the Goldston session. When asked why, county staff reportedly responded that it would confuse the citizens, and that they only wanted input on the long-range plan.

At the sessions there were posters about county wealth and income distribution, housing, transportation, environment, and recreation. Citizens were invited to place sticky notes with their comments on the posters. County staff were friendly, knowledgeable and very open to input from those attending. At least one commissioner was at each session. Hopefully we as citizens of the county will be able to see comments were given to the county staff, and before they have been homogenized by consultants and approved by the commissioners.

I keep wondering why the push for zoning so quickly. I don’t see a lot of developers anxious to build McMansions in the southwest part of the county. Why? Perhaps because it is 30 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart!

The composition of the commission may change from the extreme liberal to more conservative in the November elections. After that, the zoning process may become more open to county input and may not fit current commissioner desires.

As always, follow the money. If zoning R1 and R5 is in place, anyone wishing for a variance will have to request permission from the board of commissioners. Permission requests cost money to file, perhaps additional money for legal fees, certainly for inspections and permits. Is the zoning push really a means of gaining more funds for the county which can then be spent by the commissioners on their particular priorities?

Overheard at the Goldston event was a comment that what we need is smaller government and more churches. How profound!

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