Chatham County BBS

xx Commissioner Karen Howard doesn't care about anti-county-wide zoning opinions
Yesterday at 08:43:13 AM by zorro
From the Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2016 22:08:04 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Commissioners Meeting on Zoning

I attended the Chatham County Commissioner's Meeting on Monday evening. The Historic County Courthouse courtroom was filled to over capacity, with another 100 or so individuals listening on speakers downstairs.

What was the reason for such a crowd? Ostensibly to provide input to the Commissioners on the County's plan to zone all of Chatham County. Once the meeting started each speaker had three minutes to present comments to the Board.

Of those speakers where I could determine a strong position one way or the other, about 15 spoke against zoning, while about 10 spoke for zoning. Comments against zoning seemed to center around the lack of a need for zoning, lack of clarity around zoning rules and requirements, bad timing for zoning now, increased personal costs, creating conditions for uncontrolled growth, and the lack of concern by the Commissioners to listen to those citizens who will be subject to zoning. Several commenters stated that the Commission was going against the recommendations of its own Planning Board. Comments for zoning centered around a perceived need to protect farmland and Chatham County's rural character.

Most interesting to me was the discussion between the Commissioners after the public comment period. Commissioner Walter Petty summed up the concerns of many in the audience: that the people in the County were not made fully aware of zoning implications, that concerns could be better handled by regulations, and that County Commissioners, if they chose to, could continue discussions to find a common ground between pro- and con-zoning sides. Commissioner Howard said she found little value in hearing opinions from  Chatham Co citizens since she, and the Board, had already made the decision to zone. Commissioner Hales agreed that she was moving forward with zoning.

So, what value was this zoning meeting? It seems very little. The citizens who spoke against a rapid rush to zoning apparently have no valued opinions, particularly for Commissioner Howard, and the Commissioners are going to do what they are going to do. I'm not against zoning as a concept. I just don't think the current Board has the best interests in mind of those citizens who are opposed to yet another level of government intrusion and oversight into private property and into individual decisions, nor does it wish any further public discussion about their decisions.

What should a concerned citizen do? Bone up on what has already been discussed, on the positions and promises of our politicians, and on the actions of our county committees. There are three long-range planning meetings scheduled: June 21 at Horton Middle School, June 22 at Margaret Pillard Middle School, and June 23 at J.S. Waters Elementary School  (each from 5:00 - 7:00 PM). Attend one and provide your opinions. The next Planning Board Meeting is set for July 12: show up and give your thoughts. Attend the next Commissioner's meeting on July 18 and continue to express concerns about the process and lack of empathy for citizen input.

And, finally, you have the power to make changes. Vote in November.
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xx Hales, Howard & Crawford push for Chatham county-wide zoning without listening
Yesterday at 08:40:53 AM by zorro
From the Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:09:59 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Zoning timeline

Since zoning is such a hot issue in the county, here is a timeline (based on public records at of what has transpired to date.

March 2014: Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Bock asked county staff to explore creating a special zoning overlay, in response to mining near Goldston in the unzoned areas of the County.

April 2014: The existing Planning Board formed a Subcommittee to explore zoning options.

June 2014: The Planning Board Subcommittee produced four options to be presented to the Commissioners -
  Option 1 - extend zoning with an open use district.
  Option 2 - adopt a stand alone heavy industrial use ordinance
  Option 3 - extend traditional zoning, with special consideration for long-term development
  Option 4 - no action at this time (no generalized sentiment for zoning the unzoned protions of the county)

June 2014: Public input at the Commissioners meeting - several citizens complaining about a gun range near the Stray Cat Home (oops, I mean the Goathouse Refuge). Commissioner Petty remarked that zoning is all inclusive - either zoned or unzoned, and that zoning might have prevented the GoatHouse Refuge.

July 2014: The four subcommittee options presented to the Commissioners:
  Option 1: Open Use District - everything as is but regulate certain items. Incremental / quick fix.
  Option 2: Stand alone industrial ordinance. This would create a half-zoned county.
  Option 3: Extension of traditional zoning. Effective; concern about land use or updated vision for the county.
  Option 4: Do nothing at this time or get public input for the desire for zoning.
Commissioner Elza stated "The County Has To Do Something about shooting ranges and quarries". The shooting range comment was directed against a new public range called 2A.
There was general agreement from Commissioners that the public needed to provide input.

October 2014: County staff recommended getting community input, implementing open use zoning, and begin work on a comprehensive land-use plan.

February 2015: Commissioners Howard and Hales moved to delay county meetings on zoning and "present an alternative direction". Crawford, Hales, and Howard voted to delay meetings and ignore the planning commission recommendation. Cross and Petty disagreed.

April - November 2015: Numerous petitions against zoning presented to the Commission -  by the Chatham Co Livestock Association, Chatham Co Farm Bureau and many others. Many citizens spoke in favor of zoning.

October 2015: Noise ordinance discussed - not directed at Range 2A (of course not).

November 2015: The County Planning board (with several new members appointed by Crawford, Hales and Howard) presented 5 options to Commission (by a 6 to 5 vote of planning board members). Those were:
  Option 1: Leave Chatham County Unzoned
  Option 2: Apply Open Use Zoning to Unzoned Chatham County
  Option 3: Apply Traditional Zoning to Unzoned Chatham County
  Hybrid Option 4: Zoning in Some Areas of Unzoned Chatham County, and Open Use Zoning in Others
  Hybrid Option 5: Combination of Zoning, Open Use Zoning, and Unzoned Areas
  Option 6: High-Impact Use Ordinance
At the commissioners meeting was presented a Minority Report stating the zoning options as presented did not go far enough to control development in the county. After much discussion Commissioners Cross and Petty moved to accept the Planning Boards recommendation to not zone west of 87. That motion failed on 3-2 vote. Commissioners Hales and Howard then moved to extend zoning to all portions of the county. The motion passed on a 3-2 vote, with Hales, Howard and Crawford voting in favor, Cross and Petty voting against.

December 2015: Commissioners voted for R1 and R5 zoning during the 2:00 PM work session, NOT the normal 6:00 PM session.

March 2016: Commissioners set a date of June 6 for a public hearing on zoning.

No County Commission meeting minutes have been posted on the County's website since the March 2016 meeting.

I am not necessarily against zoning. Unconstrained growth is a problem - look at Chapel Hill and Cary as examples of that. We need a method to maintain the charming nature of Chatham County. I am against the one-size-fits-all, my-way-or-the-highway approach of certain Commissioners, and I am against their ignoring public input from those impacted by zoning.

This information and more is posted on my blog at

Raymond Gastwaite
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xx What we need is smaller government and more churches
Yesterday at 08:38:36 AM by zorro
From yesterday's Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2016 11:42:38 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Long-Range Planning Sessions

I attended the Goldston community input session for the long-range planning committee put on by the Chatham Co Long-Range Planning Committee. Did you attend? No, I didnt 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 countys direction. There were maybe 30 citizens at the Goldston meeting.

Trusted 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, knowledgable 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 dont 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!

This information and more is posted on my blog at
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xx Chatham County taxes going up. Do you know how your money is being spent?
Yesterday at 08:37:03 AM by zorro
From this morning's Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:56:59 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Chatham County taxes going up

Most of us have heard that our Commissioners are increasing property taxes in Chatham County. Do you know how your money is being spent? County tax information is posted on the Countys website - in 17 separate, difficult to read documents.

Here is a summary that I have compiled after reading through those documents.

Property taxes are going up 5.5%, by 1.19 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to a total of 63.38 cents per $100. That is top of an estimated 3.7% increase in your property values. Together those give the County $62.29 million dollars of property taxes to spend. And property taxes account for 58% of total county revenue. Total general fund expenditures are going up 7% from this year to next year, up to $107,430,261.

As an example, if you have a $250,000 piece of property, its value will now increase to $259,250. Taxes would have been $1,554.75. Now expect taxes of $1,643.13, an increase of $88.38. Think you own your property? Try not paying your county property taxes and see how long you keep it (but that is a post for another time).

Where do our Commissioners plan to spend that $107 million?

County Schools take up the largest portion of the budget, and will get a $1.5 million increase over last year for 3 more reading specialists, 5 teachers, and 10.5 teaching assistants, along with $700,000 in staff raises..

Next, staffing for the county will increase by 2.5 in social services, plus 5 more detention officers, an admin assistant for central permits, and one-half of a nutritionist. Staff will receive a 4% increase in salaries. Total county full-time equivalent staff increases from 477 to 507, which is $39,155,539 in salaries and benefits. The largest department is the Sheriff's office, with 160 full-time equivalent staff.

Health insurance (how is that Obamacare working for cost control?) is going up 15%, or $650,000.

Increases in social services include a new affordable housing commission, converting the Henry Siler School to low income housing, and addressing substandard housing.

Individual county department increases are
  Central permitting - up 22%
  Inspections - up 16%
  Schools - up 5%
  County attorney - up 38%
  Economic development - up 46%
  Emergency operations - up 20%
  Human services agencies - up 53%
  General services (Im not sure what all this includes) - up 47%, to $12,400,000.

Our fire districts also want more money.
  Goldston from 8 cents to 9 cents per $100.
  Northview from 8.3 cents to 8.6 cents per $100.
  Bennett from 8 cents to 9 cents.

And we are buying capital improvements.
  $236,500 for bike lanes (can someone post where these will be?)
  $6,200,000 for the new Health Services building at CCCC (the first year of two years cost)
  $6,400,000 for a new high school (first year of of three years cost)

The three biggest areas of expense are
  Schools, at $36,800,000
  General services, at $12.5 million
  Social services, at $10.8 million

So, are you satisfied with giving more money to the Commissioners to spend as they see fit? If so, that's great, as they certainly are spending more of our money. If not, well, November is coming. Either way, go vote.

Thanks for reading this. See this and more on my blog at
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xx Tornado Warning Chatham County June 23 5:45pm
June 23, 2016, 04:57:23 PM by Wilderness Voice
alert just came over cell 3 min ago~stay safe
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xx Retreat at Haw River development sold to Flying Crown Ranch LLC for $4.2 million
June 23, 2016, 10:32:37 AM by Gene Galin
The Retreat at Haw River development sold to Flying Crown Ranch LLC for $4.2 million

Bynum, NC CBRE|Raleigh has announced the sale of The Retreat at Haw River, a 646.69 acre master-planned residential community in Bynum, NC. The property sold on June 10 for $4,200,000 to Flying Crown Ranch LLC.

Retreat at Haw RiverThe Retreat at Haw River is an approved 395-lot single family residential development located off Bynum Ridge Road in Pittsboro. The site includes over 10,500 linear feet of walking trails and over 427 acres of open space, with a community pond, garden and amenity center. Located along the Haw River, the property offers aesthetically pleasing riverfront views with convenient access to Chatham Park, Fearrington Village, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jordan Lake and the overall Triangle region.

The sale consists of four parcels totaling +/- 646.69 Acres. It is currently zoned R-1 & R-5. The site plan approved is based on Conservation Subdivisions Alternate Standards for Development, which allows the development density to be increased by ten percent as long as the minimum of forty percent of the area can be retained as conservation space. Of the retained conservation space, a minimum of eighty percent must be natural space with the remainder open space. Municipal water and private sewer.

The original asking price was listed as $5,950,000.

Large, entitled, single family deals like this one are becoming very hard to find, said Chester F. Allen with CBRE|Raleigh. With all of the explosive growth in Western Wake County, we anticipate seeing more growth in this area of the Triangle.

Senior Vice President Barry Bowling, Senior Vice President Chester F. Allen and Vice President Carlton Midyette III of CBRE|Raleigh represented the seller, Crescent Communities in the transaction.
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xx CJ - Chatham County commissioners approve tax increase in 2016-17 county budget
June 21, 2016, 09:11:29 PM by Gene Galin
Chatham County commissioners approve tax increase in 2016-17 county budget

Pittsboro, NC On June 20, 2016, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the fiscal year 2016-17 county budget of $107.5 million based on a property tax rate of 63.38 cents. This reflects a 1.19-cent property tax increase, the first tax increase since 2010-11.

For someone with a $100,000 home, the proposed tax increase would add about $11.90 per year to the property tax bill, or less than $1 per month if paid using monthly mortgage escrows. For a $500,000 home, the tax bill increase by about $59.50 per year.

A major increase in the budget results from the need to dedicate new revenue to three major facilities in the countys Capital Improvement Plan:

A new Health Sciences Building for Central Carolina Community College, slated to open in 2018, construction in 2017, $14.3 million
A new elementary school in northeast Chatham, slated to open in 2021, $30.6 million
An expansion of the planned new high school in the northeast from an initial capacity of 800 students to 1,000 students (maximum capacity of 1,200 students), slated to open in 2021, an additional $5 million in the CIP

The Board of Commissioners made a few minor adjustments to the proposed budget. The major addition is $63,845 for a pilot grants program for town recreation programs. Funds will be distributed on a $5 per capita basis for such items as town parks and recreation facilities, programs, equipment as well as matching funds and planning for larger grants.

Chatham County commission chairman Jim Crawford said, Commissioner Diana Hales suggested the town recreation grants, something the county did many years ago. This is a great idea to collaborate with the towns to promote more options for physical activity for people of all ages.

General operating funds in the budget includes several months of operations for the new Agriculture & Conference Center and a full year of operations for the new Joint School & County Garage, according to County Manager Renee Paschal. We are lucky to have healthy growth in revenues to help cover these costs.

Other major items in the budget proposed by the County Manager and approved by the Board of Commissioners include:

A five-percent increase in funding for Chatham County Schools (an increase of $846,000 for current expense, an increase of $320,000 for capital outlay and $300,000 placed in contingency if the state approves pay raises).

An appropriation of $221,766 for an almost full year of operations of the new Agriculture & Conference Center and $245,000 to fund a full year of operations for the new Joint County-Schools Bus Garage.

A transfer of $936,219 from fund balance to open the new Animal Shelter in 2018-19, which would be one year early.

A transfer of $161,157 from the Pittsboro Elementary roof project to a mobile pod for Northwood High, which will increase its capacity until a new high school is built. School officials believe the Pittsboro Elementary roof can still be funded as planned.

A three percent salary increase for all county employees to help the county remain competitive in the region.

An increase of 15 percent for employee health insurance, which is similar to increases that other localities and the private sector are experiencing.

Funding for 10.5 new staff positions, with five of those assigned to the jail as mandated to implement new federal requirements.

The proposed county budget provides most of the details since few changes were made. It can be found at and look for the Quick Links box at the top right of the page. The final adopted budget will be posted in the next few weeks.
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xx Diana Hales appoints Emily Moose, who is 4 county-wide zoning, to planning board
June 20, 2016, 10:47:29 AM by zorro
It's not surprise that Chatham County Commissioner Diana Hales appoints Emily Moose, who spoke at the June 6th commissioners' meeting in favor of countywide zoning, to the planing baord.

Tonight's approval by the Chatham county commissioners is just a formality.

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xx Power surges in Chatham power grid
June 19, 2016, 05:52:17 AM by exemplagrata
I've been away from the splendor of summer thunderstorms for a good while, and i'm delighted to have moved back home. While i've been living where a bit of thunder puts the natives in a tizzy, everything has gotten computers added. So, i'm looking at the many year old surge protectors we moved cross-country and realize i ought to replace them (per the wishy-washy advice on the internet).

But what is the experience folks have with power surges? We've had one evening where there was some odd power blinks, and the Duke Energy outage map showed lots of outages.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

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xx Jordan Lake State Park
June 13, 2016, 01:00:58 PM by Silk_Hope
So we decided to camp in our RV at Jordan Lake. The campsite was good sized, loop was quiet and with the exception of the spigot leaking everything was fine.

The kids decided that they wanted to go swimming, we insisted that they not put their heads in the water because years ago when we had a boat we found fish with sores on them around the Robeson Creek area. We went to the Poplar Point swimming beach, it had a lot of pinecones and some trash on it but otherwise was fine. We got in the water, started walking around and low and behold a human feces was floating next to us. We decided to exit the water, leave the beach, go back to the camper and take showers.

I have been to many State Parks in different states and all have their faults but this was truly a disgusting experience and to happen in our home county is embarrassing. It will be hard to convince the family to camp at Jordan Lake again.

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