by Billy Ball
After much back and forth, Chatham Park is back again.
Once again, Pittsboro town leaders will hold a public hearing tonight on the future of Chatham Park, the long-planned development in the rural county that figures to increase the county's population by a factor of twelve in the next three decades.
Developers Chatham Park Investors LLC have submitted a rezoning application that would add 46 acres to the development district and make a few amendments to the park's master plan, including offering the town more strength in approving or denying future portions of the development.
The rezoning comes after a group of concerned residents calling themselves Pittsboro Matters filed suit against the Chatham Park investors this summer, contending the plan clashes with the town's land-use plan and offers vague, unenforceable guidelines.
Many have criticized the development as failing to offer sufficient open space or buffers from the Haw River, a regional drinking water source.
As Pittsboro Matters pointed out last week, the public hearing will allow residents to weigh in on the entirety of the plan. Members of the town Board of Commissioners approved an earlier version of the plan in June.
"This is a chance for the Town Board to get it right this time," said Pittsboro Matters Chairwoman Amanda Robertson in a statement. "We view this new application and review process as an opportunity for the town, (Chatham Park Investors) and citizens to engage in a real discussion of issues related to the master Plan, in order to address any concerns now before it is too late."
The 7,120-acre plan represents the largest mixed-use development ever proposed in North Carolina. Tonight's hearing begins at 7 p.m. in the Chatham County Historic Courthouse in downtown Pittsboro.