PITTSBORO — It’s been the center of controversy in Pittsboro for many months, with the most recent leading to long nights at Pittsboro’s Town Hall with concerned citizens, elected officials and …
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PITTSBORO — It’s been the center of controversy in Pittsboro for many months, with the most recent leading to long nights at Pittsboro’s Town Hall with concerned citizens, elected officials and developers in seemingly endless debates and discussions about trees, tree coverage and tree canopy, among other things.
But Chatham Park is moving forward with lot clearances, and Vanessa Jenkins, executive vice president at Preston Development, told the News + Record that there could be lots ready to sell there by the end of the year.
“We don’t want to open with just a handful of lots,” she said. “We need to open up more product diversity. So probably pushing into first quarter of ’20 to actually have a diverse lot product to sell to the builders.”
Chatham Park is a 7,000-plus acre swath of Chatham County land that’s projected to house a $15 billion development that will include residential neighborhoods and commercial space as well as schools, parks and other amenities.
It has been the subject of a lot of long discussions at Pittsboro Board of Commissioners meetings in recent months. The approval in June of the Tree Protection Element came after a lengthy wait for Chatham Park as signs popped up around Pittsboro proclaiming that the sign owners “Speak for the Trees” in the development.
“No doubt it’s been time-consuming and it has been a lot of effort on everybody’s part to help the town commissioners and staff understand the elements,” Jenkins said. “Everybody’s worked hard, and the people who have wanted to put in the work and understand it have done so.”
Preston Development is now waiting on an affordable housing element, which will help govern policies on the subject in both the development and the town. The town’s ordinance for what constitutes affordable housing has not been passed, but Chatham Park has promised to set aside 1 percent of all housing units to meet “affordable housing criteria,” set aside a minimum of 100 of those units for single-family detached dwellings and contibute $100 per residential dwelling unit built into an Affordable Housing Fund.
Jenkins said the affordable housing task force Pittsboro appointed was “a good diverse group of people.”
“I believe the town is trying to move forward with coming up with a town ordinance for affordable housing,” she said. “I think Chatham Park would like to see that in place as we go forward with our element is well. Obviously we want to make sure we’re meeting whatever ordinance before our element is in place.”
In the meantime, Jenkins said clearing and grading is “well under way” on the first section of Vine Parkway, which stretches from Thompson Street onto Wendover Parkway. The area will include the development’s first 500 lots, the entry to a 10-acre park which is being donated to the Town of Pittsboro and the first building for the private school Thales Academy.
Additionally, a stoplight on U.S. Hwy. 15-501 at the off-ramp from U.S. Hwy. 64 in Pittsboro is now functional, paid for by Chatham Park as part of several road improvements. A new road called Charger Boulevard, set to run from 15-501 into Northwood High School’s campus, will be complete by the beginning of the next school year, Jenkins said.
“A lot of those will wrap up in time for the school year to start, and then we’ll crank back up next year and complete the rest of them,” she said.
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.