Growth and development in Pittsboro and northern Chatham may get the bulk of the attention in Chatham County, but what about Siler City? Town Planner Jack Meadows will testify — by virtue of stacks …
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Growth and development in Pittsboro and northern Chatham may get the bulk of the attention in Chatham County, but what about Siler City? Town Planner Jack Meadows will testify — by virtue of stacks of work projects scattered here, there and everywhere around his office in City Hall — that there’s action on his side of the county, too. Meadows has been in his position since 2002. A graduate of the Rural Economic Development Institute (REDI) at the NC Rural Center in 2011, Meadows earned a history degree from UNC-Wilmington in 1998 and a masters in public administration from East Carolina University in 2000. Prior to coming to Siler City, he worked as a planner for the City of Greenville.
You’ve been Siler City’s town planner since 2002…so obviously you’ve seen significant changes in the town’s economy and infrastructure and “feel” in that time. Given the ebbs and flows during these changes, talk about your workload now as the director of planning and community development and the upward trajectory you’re seeing as Siler City sees new growth…
It’s a busy workload. As town planner, I supervise town planning, community development and code enforcement operations. I facilitate in several areas, including the town’s pre-development meetings and helping to guide town development ordinance amendments. I’m president of the Siler City Development Organization, which is currently working on the Façade Grant Program and the CAM Site Readiness Spring Litter Sweep.
I also work as project manager for the Siler City Brownfields Program and I’m a team member of the Loves Creek Watershed Stewards.
In addition, I maintain the working list of Siler City’s available commercial buildings and sites. And I’m chairman of the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization Rural Technical Coordinating Committee.
It’s easy and perhaps understandable for people to look at northern Chatham’s growth and projects like Chatham Park and think that the “other” end of Chatham County has seen its best days. But economic development is happening where you are – can you walk us through the ongoing projects you’re working on now?
It’s easier just to list them, and it’s a lengthy list. It includes:
• Mountaire Farms
• A.D. Tubi
• Siler Business Drive Solar Farm
• Jones Road Solar Farm
• Tripp Cottages Phase 2 44 unit multifamily development
• Dogwood Downs 8 lot single family residential subdivision
• Hampton Village Phase 3b/4a 40 unit manufactured home park
• Cambridge Southeast 25 unit manufactured home park
• Chatham Charter 3 new sports fields
• Siler School Square 44 unit multifamily development
• Brookwood Farms expansion
Siler City is the “former” home to a number of plants and industries. Some of those former sites are opening up Brownfield opportunities. Can you talk about the EPA Brownfield Community Assessment Grant that’s ongoing and any other projects design to reclaim, clean up or otherwise make better such sites?
Siler City is using the EPA grant funds to conduct initial due diligence services on several abandoned or underutilized properties that used to be home to plants or industries. Once the initial round of assessments are completed, we will be selecting other sites for additional testing and having discussions with owners to see if a brownfields redevelopment scenario makes sense for the property. Grant funds are essentially a way to remove one barrier (initial due diligence cost) that many times keeps these sites from moving forward.
You also work on transportation planning for Siler City, which includes things like sidewalks and bike and pedestrian projects. What’s happening there?
There are really too many to mention, but here are the ones for which I’m serving as project manager:
• The North Chatham Avenue Sidewalk Planning Study
• The East Raleigh Street Pedestrian project
• The East 11th Street access management project
• The Loves Creek Greenway Trail
• American Disabilities Act compliant intersection project
• The West Third Street Sidewalk project
Each of these projects will give people in Siler City better and easier access to walkable points around the town.
The Spring Chicken Festival is coming up May 4. What kind of impact do you think an event like that can have on Siler City?
Since one of Mountaire Farms’ largest poultry processing plants now calls Siler City home and with the importance the poultry industry has on our communities, chicken is something to celebrate.
With a large and growing event such as the Spring Chicken Festival, set for May 4th in downtown Siler City, it also reaps large benefits. The benefits of the festival is one of the driving factors behind the Siler City Parks and Recreation Department to organize and implement the much anticipated event. As the festival continues to grow the event will have great impact on the local economy and social factors as well.
Festivals attract visitors, which grows tourism in the town. As visitors discover Siler City they will not only spend money at the various food trucks and vendors present at the festival but they will also receive the opportunity to visit local merchants, stay overnight at hotels and bed and breakfasts as well as purchase goods and services from local gas stations, markets, businesses and “mom and pop” stores as well. On-site spending will include registration fees from vendors, ride purchases from local ride services, shopping at local stores and vendors, souvenirs, and food and beverages. The festival is to also generate a social impact, growing community engagement and pride in the Town of Siler City.