PITTSBORO — In a rare deviation from normal procedure, Pittsboro’s mayor and board of commissioners delayed most agenda points from Monday’s regular meeting, citing the surge …
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PITTSBORO — In a rare deviation from normal procedure, Pittsboro’s mayor and board of commissioners delayed most agenda points from Monday’s regular meeting, citing the surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The meeting was scheduled to be the commissioners’ first in-person assembly since the coronavirus pandemic began almost a year and a half ago. Since then, the board has met exclusively via Zoom, even after state mandates permitted a return to regular proceedings.
Over the last few weeks, however, COVID-19 case numbers have risen consistently across the state as the novel Delta variant — a more contagious, though not necessarily more dangerous COVID-19 mutation — continues to proliferate. As of Monday, state officials had designated 13 North Carolina counties as suffering “substantial” COVID spread.
Chatham, a “significantly” impacted county, has also seen an alarming jump in positive COVID-19 diagnoses over the last month. Throughout most of June, Chatham experienced fewer than 20 new cases on average across a 14-day span. On Monday, the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services reported 114 cases in the previous two weeks, almost exclusively among the unvaccinated population.
Considering the heightened risk to some attendees, Pittsboro’s commissioners and mayor decided to truncate the in-person meeting and postpone the bulk of its content to their next meeting on Aug. 9, which will be moved back to Zoom.
“The board collectively determined that we should not proceed as originally planned in the interest of public health and the safety of those who may wish to attend the meeting,” Mayor Jim Nass said in a press release Monday morning. “... (A) decision was reached to proceed with an in-person, abbreviated version of the regular meeting to include the updates and commissioner comments, public comment and to consider the consent agenda as customary.”
The board was originally scheduled to host four consequential public hearings. Each was opened Monday, but immediately continued to the Aug. 9 meeting without entertaining discussion.
“I, as mayor, and the board of commissioners find this plan preserves the rights of the parties involved in the public hearings already scheduled for the July 26 regular meeting agenda and the interested parties who may wish to provide comments,” Nass said, “while also promoting the public health and safety of each of those groups that may wish to attend the meeting ... As always, the health and safety of our citizens and residents is our primary concern.”
The four public hearings to be continued on Aug. 9 are:
• Annexation request from The Rexford Group
The petitioner, The Rexford Group Ltd, requested approval of a voluntary contiguous annexation of about 197 acres west of Old Graham Road and north of the U.S. Hwy. 64 Bypass.
The petition was previously discussed at the June 14 and June 28 regular meetings of the board of commissioners in which the town clerk and commissioners investigated and accepted “sufficiency” of The Rexford Group’s request, according to the agenda.
• Chatham Park development agreement
The commissioners will host a legislative public hearing to evaluate Chatham Park Investors’ request for a development agreement to encompass the entirety of the Chatham Park Planned Development District, including a broad range of residential, institutional and commercial land uses as authorized and provided for in the Chatham Park master plan. The plan anticipates 22,000 residential units and 22,000,000 square feet of nonresidential uses.
• Rezoning request for the Townsend Tract
Jamie S. Schwedler requested a general use rezoning of three parcels spanning about 740 acres near 1377 Sanford Rd. The rezonings would be from manufacturing-heavy industrial use to residential-agricultural, and from residential-agricultural-(2 acres) to low density residential. The property is adjacent to and south of Moncure-Pittsboro Road and owned by CPF LLC.
• Special use permit for the Townsend Tract
Jamie S. Schwedler requested a special use permit for a planned unit development including a maximum of 2,223 units to include one-family, detached residences; town homes; and associated accessory buildings and amenities such as club houses. The development would sit on the aforementioned 740 acre property near 1377 Sanford Rd. subject to approval of Schwedler’s rezoning requests.
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dldolder.