PITTSBORO — With $4 billion in investment and 7,500 jobs, VinFast is bringing more than just electric vehicles to Chatham County. It’ll also bring a population boom, and those new families will need other places in and around Moncure to live, work and play.
That expected growth is why the Chatham County Board of Commissioners called on the services of consulting group White & Smith LLC to create a Small Area Plan for Moncure — the future home of VinFast, the Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer.
The SAP calls for focused planning in areas of economic development in and around Triangle Innovation Point, the megasite which will house VinFast. The first phase of the SAP was delivered by White & Smith during the work session of Monday night’s board meeting at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center.
According to the plan, key goals of SAP stakeholders include:
1. Reflect the feedback and input of residents, businesses, and other members of the historic Moncure community; 2. Generate a concrete vision for how the community should develop over the coming years, in light of Plan Chatham’s goals and the significant economic growth now anticipated for the area; 3. Reflect independent expertise and generate data in key areas such as demographics, growth trends, infrastructure and public services, market analysis, and culture and environment; 4. Be completed as efficiently as possible while also achieving these other critical goals.
Phase one of the plan included preliminary findings of the report, additional firms added to the planning process and laying out a timeline for final rollout. After hearing phase one, commissioners voted unanimously to renew the contract of White & Smith, which means phase two will begin in January.
“What the county does in response to this kind of change, and the pace at which the change is occurring, is crucial,” Ben Hitchings, a consultant with White & Smith, told commissioners Monday. “And that’s part of what this plan is intended to do — to inform decisions, to keep pace with this kind of change.”
The preliminary findings also showed areas of Moncure that would benefit from specific zoning modifications, such as creating an activity district, neighborhood districts and other accessory uses such as health centers or places of worship.
“We had this big idea and broadly knew we wanted a small area plan for Moncure,” Karen Howard, chairperson of the board of commissioners said. “So getting the right people in the room means we end up with all the right ingredients and then some extra flavor on top of that.”
The next phase of the SAP includes outlining watershed protections for Moncure and finding leaders within Moncure for community input sessions, which White & Smith would be completed by the end of February.
Following the renewal of contract for the SAP, the board also moved to exercise its legislative discretion to pause taking legislative action on new rezoning requests for the Moncure area as outlined in the plan. This means rezoning requests previously heard by the board will continue through the county’s planning board, but no new rezonings in this area will receive final approval by commissioners until Aug. 1, 2023, when the final SAP is expected to be completed.
• Commissioners unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2024-2030 Capital Improvements Plan.
• Commissioners approved a $270,000 allocation to human services nonprofits for Fiscal Year 2024. Howard said she was disappointed in the allocation because it was not substantially more than in previous years. The allocation was $260,000 for Fiscal Year 2023. Howard said she wanted the allocation to increase at at least $10,000 per year, but preferably more, to keep up with the rising housing costs of the county and other inflation-related price increases year to year.
• Allocations of more than $37,500 were also approved for the Housing Trust Fund. Commissioners also allocated more than $185,000 in grants and loans for housing-related nonprofit projects. Those projects included a townhome project by Chatham Habitat for Humanity, which was funded by a $65,000 grant from the county.
• Chatham County named Veteran Services Officer Michael Daniels and Application Solutions Engineer Lucian Stewart as its 2022 employees of the year.
Daniels, who served 21 years in the US Army, has been Chatham County’s Veteran Services Officer since June 2021.
“Michael is an incredibly valuable asset to Chatham County veterans and their families, and routinely goes above and beyond to assist them,” said Carolyn Miller, assistant county manager. “Michael often travels great distances across the county, including to the hospital, to meet with veterans and their families to complete forms, ensuring they receive the benefits they deserve.”
Stewart is an Application Solutions Engineer with Management Information Services (MIS) after joining the GIS Department in September 2020.
“Lucian provides excellent customer service, he works continuously to improve himself and others around him, he is a team player, and he has a positive attitude every day he comes to work,” said Chatham County MIS and GIS Director Nick Haffele. “Lucian’s contributions to various county application deployments have improved efficiency across multiple departments by extending functionality of already existing county business systems.”
• The Coalition to Keep the MCC Open gave a presentation about the sustainability issues surrounding the Chatham Hospital Maternity Care Center. Those issues include low birthing volumes and staffing issues, which have made the future of the center uncertain. Commissioners, along with the Chatham Board of Health, have affirmed their support for the center. Commissioner Franklin Gomez Flores, who is also a member of the Board of Health and a member of the taskforce established by UNC Health for the MCC, offered to draft a resolution of support for the MCC on behalf of the county to be read at its January meeting.
• Commissioners debated term limits for the Planning Board, which had previously been discussed off-handedly during meetings. County Attorney Bob Hagemann presented three options: no term limits for Planning Board members, no term limits for at-large Planning Board members, or keeping the status quo of term limits decided by the commissioner that nominated them.
“My sense is that the risk of losing all of that institutional knowledge over and over again on our Planning Board in particular is significant,” said Howard, in support of eliminating term limits.
The motion was unanimously passed to eliminate term limits for the members of the Planning Board. Commissioners would still have power to appoint and remove Planning Board members under the new motion.
Commissioners will meet again at 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, at the Chatham Agriculture & Conference Center. For more information visit www.chathamcountync.gov/government/board-of-commissioners.