Curious Chatham: How will Chatham Park impact home prices?

A lot of you have been asking about Chatham Park. We hear you. 

This week’s question comes from Jo Ann Beal. She asks “What are the pros and cons of Chatham Park as related to other Chatham County property values/appreciation in the next five years?”  

In terms of home prices, the news seems to be good. 

According to data from Zillow, the online real estate database company, home prices are expected to rise by 2.9 percent in the next year, from the current median of over $293,000 to more than $301,000. 

Linda Jacobs, a 29-year real estate agent for Advantage Commercial in Pittsboro, is optimistic about home prices. 

“Chatham Park is going to cause the real estate values to just absolutely jump big time in Chatham County,” she said. 

One way that Chatham’s home prices may increase is if the demand for these homes remains higher than the supply. Jacobs said Chatham Park will provide the community some homes priced between $300,000 and $425,000 – which are currently in high demand – as well as lower- and higher-priced options. 

“There’s just not enough of it to supply the demand,” Jacobs said. “When you get something that you can list for that range, before 24 hours is up, you will have a laptop full of offers that you have to comb through with your seller.”

Despite the positive numbers and outlook, some residents, like Moncure resident Brian Moore, still remain skeptical of the development. 

“For us, [Chatham Park] does nothing good,” Moore said via text message.

Briar Chapel sewage spill: Any danger?

Less than a month ago, around 2,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilled out of a broken pipe in Briar Chapel managed by Old North State Water Company. Though the untreated water flowed into nearby Pokeberry Creek, there have been no reports of danger to the public. 

Our Chatham first caught wind of the story from our friends at the Chatham County Line, who Tweeted about it. Then I reached out to Envirolink, a company that manages Old North State Water Company’s assets, about the issue.  

Carr Mclamb, general counsel and chief operating officer of Envirolink, says the company helps governments and private industry “in operating their water and sewer utilities.”

“To give you some context,” Mclamb said, “This incident … was the 1,062nd such incident [in the state of North Carolina] that has occurred as of June 11th when we reported our incident. So, they’re very common.”

Sarah Young, a spokesperson for North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, told me that the latest sewage spill on June 11th follows two other recent spills in Briar Chapel: 1,000-gallon sanitary sewer overflows occurred April 18th and June 5th. 

According to state law, Old North State Water Company was required to distribute a press release “in the event of a discharge of 1,000 gallons or more of untreated wastewater to the surface waters of the state.” 

A press release matching the one Envirolink provided Our Chatham can be viewed on a page of the Greensboro News & Record. 

Carr said that the failure was uncontrollable. 

“It’s a mechanical operation,” he said. “Things are going to fail.

You Asked, We Answered: How will Chatham’s social services respond to the coming population increase?

One of this week’s story topics comes from Bridget McEnaney, who asked about how Chatham County’s social services programs will change in response to the expected rapid population growth of the county. I spoke with Jennie Kristiansen, director of Chatham County’s Department of Social Services, to discuss the county’s unique challenges and needs as growth increases. Our discussion, lightly edited for brevity and clarity, is below. 

But first, a bit of background on Chatham County’s Department of Social Services. The department serves the county’s population by facilitating a long list of programs: CCDSS’s economic services division runs programs for childcare subsidies, Medicaid, SNAP, and child support. Their “work first” initiative aims to support families with unemployed adults, and their family services division works to improve child welfare by assisting in adoptions and investigating abuse and neglect complaints. The adult protective services unit of CCDSS is legally responsible for 30 adults. According to Kristiansen, that program means CCDSS is North Carolina’s only public agent guardian.

Curious Chatham: On the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, do LGBTQ+ individuals have resources in our county?

Fifty years ago, the Stonewall Uprising marked a pivotal moment in the Gay Liberation Movement across the United States. The month of June is dedicated to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride as a way to recognize the 1969 uprising and the mark it has had on history. But how far has the community come since then? One curious Chathamite asked: What type of resources exist in Chatham County for the LGBTQ+ community? Turns out, not so much. While there is a wealth of resources online that range from cultural competency to health, there is a lack of resources available for the LGBTQ population living in Chatham County. 

A worker at the Chatham Community Library with knowledge of the LGBTQ scene in the area describes the resources within the county as “lacking at best.”

The employee acknowledges that, despite the county’s shortage, Chatham County is near areas that have the resources available.

Class-action suit over opioids in works by Chatham County

A class-action lawsuit being prepared for Chatham County is likely to ask for millions of dollars in damages, according to Casey Hilliard, a county health policy analyst. 

Hilliard, who helped with determining a figure using publicly available research, declined to give a more specific amount. Still unknown are the targets of the lawsuit, but unlike some other similar lawsuits, Chatham’s will name both manufacturers and distributors of the substance. Gary Whitaker, a Winston-Salem based attorney, part of a team representing Chatham, declined to name any of the parties they intended to sue. But he did say the list of manufactures was “fixed,” whereas the list of distributors was based upon who was operating in the area at the time. 

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to give the green light to pursue the suit during their May 20 meeting. 

“Rather than stand on the sidelines, we are seizing the opportunity to lead a class-action fight against the opioid crisis as we combat the personal devastation we see right here in our community,” BOC chairman Mike Dasher said in a news release. County spokesperson Debra Henzey said the suit is an attempt to recoup some of the costs of dealing with problem. 

“(The opioid problem) affects the court system, it affects social services, it affects mental health services, which provides substance abuse treatment,” she said.

Curious Chatham: Safety concerns over one-road Powell Place

This week’s question comes from Bonnie Thompson, who is a resident of Pittsboro’s Powell Place neighborhood concerned about the safety of Powell Place and a plan for future emergency exits. Powell Place, which includes many senior citizens, is located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 501 and U.S. Highway 64. It is zoned as a MUPD, also known as a Mixed Use Planned Development. According to the Town of Pittsboro Zoning Ordinance, MUPDs are “an area integrating mixed uses which may include commercial, office, institutional, hotel, residential and recreational uses.“

Powell Place’s classification became a problem for many residents in the area in 2018, when it was planned to develop into an apartment area. In fact, Powell Place residents petitioned against the 264-unit apartment complex. The apartment homes are called Sanctuary Apartment Homes at Powell Place, and they are set to open to residents in February 2020.