Pittsboro commissioners name historic park, examine sewer system in late-July meeting

The meeting kicked off at 7:04 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, which was led by a group of Girl Scouts from Troop 1006. The girls were later honored by the Board for their “skip the straw” campaign, which encourages local residents to stop using drinking straws or bring their own reusable straws. Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck then announced to the board that the water treatment facility had won the North Carolina Area-Wide Optimization Award for the fifth consecutive year, and that the plant was exceeding its turbidity goals. Gruesbeck also announced plans to replace a 2-inch water line with a 12-inch water line for the downtown roundabout. Commissioner Michael Fiocco said the project “will vastly improve our distribution system.” Mayor Cindy Perry then addressed the fallen trees near Powell Place off of Highway 64, calling it an “absolute slaughter.” Perry called for the Board to examine a freestanding tree protection order.The Board then heard a presentation from Town Engineer Elizabeth Goodson and Bryan Odom, vice president and director of Water Resources for WK Dickson about the town’s sewer lines and manholes. The two presented a map of the various assets in the town’s sewer system along with some data. Here are some numbers:756 manholes32 miles of sewer collection system 187 manholes examined for storm water ingress $2.50/ft to install cameras to monitor the sewerOdom said he worked with town staff to develop a “criticality score” which ranks the likelihood and consequence of a sewer failure, which the town then mapped using GIS software.

Pittsboro BOC examines budget, Chatham Park buffers in long meeting

The meeting began at 7:03 p.m. and kicked off with Mayor Cindy Perry pointing out Evan Crouch, an Eagle scout candidate who hopes to eliminate plastic bags from local grocery stories. Two minutes later, the board approved the consent agenda and moved on to a public hearing for a proposed concrete plant, which would be built near Potterstone Village.Edward Fowler, Lisa Meeker and Charlie Cox, all Potterstone residents, spoke to the commissioners about concerns over noise, dust and potential health risks generated by the plant. Later, during Citizen Public Expressions, Fowler criticized members of town staff, at one point saying, “This isn’t about saving face, Jeff Jones,” referring to the county’s planning director. Jones said earlier, in response to a question from Commissioner John Bonitz, that it was not the staff’s job to ask why the particular site was chosen for that location.The commissioners also heard a proposal from Kevin Cox from Capital Ready Mix, a concrete supplier in Chatham, to allow the proposed concrete trucks to load at their existing facility.After nearly 45 minutes of public speeches, the commissioners moved on to commissioner and manager updates, which dealt with road widenings, sidewalks and crosswalks, and affordable housing. After the updates, the commissioners launched into an incredibly technical discussion of Chatham Park’s Planned District Development. The discussion, which largely focused on various different types of buffers, featured several times of silence when commissioners read their materials or formulated their thoughts, ending at after almost an hour. After a comparatively short discussion of a property rezoning for 196 N. Hillsboro St, which commissioner Farrell refused to support because of his belief that the street should stay residential, the commissioners called for a five-minute break, which lasted for almost 12 minutes. After more than two hours, the board finally moved on to a discussion of Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year. The budget would add funding for one position each in engineering, planning and police; allocates $2,500 for affordable housing; increases the fire department budget by almost $5,000; and budgets $66,300 for a generator for the existing town hall structure.

Chatham County Board of Commissioners Meeting June 20, 2019

BoC & UDC sign MoU 

Let’s start with the most noteworthy moment of the meeting: the board’s unanimous passage of a memorandum of understanding with the Winnie Davis chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group responsible for erecting the statue. 

Commissioner Mike Dasher started the topic discussion by recalling a meeting he had with a representative of the Winnie Davis chapter. During that meeting, they discussed whether the monument be modified and rededicated as a broader monument to all veterans, not just those who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. 

Commissioner Howard calls the MoU the “framework for opening up a conversation.” She says it will not compromise the integrity of the views of the board. Commissioner Hales calls it an “appropriate step,” and Commissioner Dasher adds that the MoU will not result in “legal determinations” but is rather an attempt to find common ground. 

The most decisive comment on the issue comes from Commissioner Crawford, who offered his support for the MoU while “personally” wishing the statue would be moved away from its current location near a “seat of government.”

As they have done for weeks, residents spoke up about their differing views on the statue. Residents like Howard Fifer, who spoke on behalf of an anti-statue group called “Chatham for All,” asked that the statue be viewed in context of what they believe to be a racist history. Throughout the debate, other residents have expressed a familial connection to the monument and a desire to preserve historical memory. 

Other News

At the beginning of the meeting, the Board received an update from Chatham County Schools representative Robert Schooley, a facilitator of student health instruction.

Board of Commissioners requests changes to Chatham Park tree coverage element as consensus remains elusive

The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners requested several changes to Chatham Park’s tree coverage ordinance at its meeting Monday night, as talks about the development’s plan to protect trees once again dominated the agenda without a resolution being voted on. Multiple commissioners expressed frustration over unclear language in the element that they said is difficult to understand. Commissioner John Bonitz and Mayor Cindy Perry also questioned Chatham Park’s practice of, in the past, changing additional parts of the element when taking into account board recommendations. The board asked Chatham Park to consider the requests made by the board Monday night and to come back with a revised draft in a couple of weeks. “I personally feel like we need to see a
complete document,” Commissioner Bett Wilson Foley said.

Debate over Pittsboro’s Confederate monument continues

With additional reporting by Ari Sen.

For something that hasn’t uttered a word – ever – the Confederate monument outside Pittsboro’s historic courthouse has caused quite a stir lately. The
debate over the Confederate monument has tested loyalties and revealed deep
divides in the community over the past few months. Some say it should be
removed, citing issues of racial equality. Others say the statue’s removal
would be akin to erasing history. Monday
night’s Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting served as another
manifestation of that unrest.

Pittsboro this week: Chatham Park’s tree protection plan, Haw River cleanup, and more

The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners convened
for a meeting Monday night. Here’s what we learned. The board still hasn’t approved Chatham Park’s tree protection plan

Representatives from Chatham Park presented a
revised version of its tree protection plan, but the board ultimately decided
against voting to approve it or not. While several members said they
appreciated some of the changes to the plan that were made, a consensus was not
met and additional questions were raised. Moving forward, the board will hold a special
work session on Chatham Park’s tree protection plan on May 13 at 6 p.m. The
decision to hold the special work session was proposed by Mayor Cindy Perry
after Chatham Park representative Chuck Smith grew frustrated over the pace at
which the board has considered the tree protection plan.

Hundreds debate fate of Pittsboro Confederate Statue

More than 500 people packed the Chatham County Agricultural and
Conference Center Monday night to voice their minds on the Confederate memorial
in the center of downtown Pittsboro. The meeting, which began at 6:02, drew people – young and old –
from Chatham and the surrounding areas. At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Walter Petty
announced his resignation from the board after serving for three terms. He
spoke of his accomplishments, especially bringing money into the town without
raising taxes. Petty half-jokingly urged the board to finally fix “the land
issue at the hospital.” Petty received a standing ovation after he finished
speaking, and fellow commissioners and residents thanked him during the public
comment session of the night for his service. Before the comments on the Confederate monument began, a large
group of Latino Jordan Matthews High School students spoke about their
experiences in Orgullo Latinx Pride, a youth group run by El Vinculo Hispano
(The Hispanic Liaison).

Pittsboro This Week: Chatham Park’s tree protection plan, rezoning on Chatham Business Drive, and more

Notes from the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, April 8

A crowd of roughly 50 people gathered in Town Hall for the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. The meeting, which lasted nearly three and a half hours, included discussions of the Chatham Park tree protection plan, a town ordinance which prevented glass containers from being used for special events, rezoning for a property on Chatham Business Drive, a preliminary plat approval for a property on Cedar Lane and sewer allocation for Mill South Homes. The meeting began shortly after 7 p.m. with a prayer, the pledge of allegiance and a public comment section. Several residents from Potterstone Village came and spoke out against the proposed concrete plant, citing its noise and potential environmental and health risks. One of the speakers provided the commissioners with a petition from 250 voting-aged residents of the development, asking for the concrete plant to be moved.