“Connecting the curious across the county”
March 1, 2019
Will Chatham Park’s tree coverage plans change?
Corrina Hill, 7, marches alongside her father during the “Procession of Trees” protest Feb. 15 at the historic Pittsboro, N.C. courthouse. The Haw River Assembly recently organized the protest after the Chatham Park development released a statement about tree protection to the Pittsboro Town Board. According to protestors, the proposal does not protect enough trees in Chatham County. (Adrianne Cleven/Our Chatham)
By: Trent Brown
On February 25, the Town of Pittsboro held a board meeting to discuss and possibly vote on Chatham Park’s Tree Protection Plan Additional Element, which is one of more than a dozen additional elements that Pittsboro has voted on since the approval of Chatham Park’s initial plan.
This plan, if voted in, would give Chatham Park the ability to use its own ordinances over tree coverage on the 7,000 acres that the Park will be set on, instead of being under Pittsboro’s regulations.
Chatham Park, which boasts a logo of three trees and a promotional video that includes trees in most of the footage, has been a source heavy debate in Pittsboro and the surrounding area recently, as many believe that Chatham Park’s proposed plan of anywhere from 0 to 25 percent tree coverage – an average of 10 percent – is not enough.
The 0 percent is for designated ‘activity centers’, while residential lots would keep 20 percent of existing trees and 10 percent on non-residential lots. The size of activity centers have yet to be disclosed by Chatham Park.
Those numbers decrease further, to 3 and 10 percent respectively, in ‘village centers’ which are described as more urban areas on Chatham Park’s website.
The Tree Protection Plan was not voted on during the February 25 meeting, as many town residents raised complaints and town commissioners presented a list of items that they felt needed to be worked on or further explained in the plan.
Some of these items were:
- Could a tree be counted more than once to satisfy tree coverage area?
- Questions about the exempt status of non-residential and mixed use sites within village centers.
- Street trees may be counted as tree coverage area.
Elaine Chiosso, executive director of Haw River Assembly, raised two additional questions about the plan:
- Could you count trees as part of the tree coverage that aren’t going to be permanently there?
- Could saplings count as mature trees in some instances?
Public outcry has been at an all-time high in Pittsboro, said Chiosso, who has seen a spike of over 8,000 hits or clicks on Facebook posts about the issue. One town commissioner mentioned receiving over 100 emails about the subject. Seventeen attendees were given time to speak at the February 25 town meeting, many giving emotionally-driven speeches.
Representation from the environmental club at Northwood High School was also there, a student announced that they had a petition for better tree coverage in Chatham Park with over 200 signatures.
On March 18, the Town of Pittsboro is holding a work session to focus solely on the Tree Protection Plan with town members, commissioners and representatives from Chatham Park.
Before this will be voted on, it is almost certain that Pittsboro town commissioners will have Chatham Park clarify these questions…
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