Northeast Chatham residents express concern over proposed ‘501 Landing’ shopping center

Posted 11/28/19

PITTSBORO — A proposed rezoning of a 5-acre lot in northeast Chatham has frustrated Polk’s Landing neighborhood residents, who say the new development would increase light pollution and express …

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Northeast Chatham residents express concern over proposed ‘501 Landing’ shopping center

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PITTSBORO — A proposed rezoning of a 5-acre lot in northeast Chatham has frustrated Polk’s Landing neighborhood residents, who say the new development would increase light pollution and express concern over an uncertain septic plan.

The owners and developers of “501 Landing” submitted an application to rezone a parcel of land right off of U.S. Hwy. 15-501 near the Lystra Road intersection, across the street from the Harris Teeter-anchored shopping center, from Residential to Neighborhood Business. It’s right next to a lot that a Publix grocery store tried to locate in two years ago.

The change in zoning would allow for construction of two buildings and 99 parking spaces as part of a new retail shopping center and was the subject of a public hearing at last Monday’s Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting, during which Pittsboro Town Commissioner Michael Fiocco represented the developers.

The application is now before the planning board, and it goes to that board with several public comments asking them to vote “no” on the change in zoning. Most expressed concern over the alteration of the area from a wooded lot to a commercial one.

Anna Marie Ambrose, who submitted a written comment, said she had lived in Polk’s Landing since the mid-1980s and any frustrations with the Publix applied to this new development.

“There are multiple commercial developments very, very close by,” she wrote, citing the Polk’s Village development next door and the Cole Park Plaza up the road. “All of this is in addition to drainage and water issues that will be impacted, to say nothing of traffic issues that have already begun to be problematic. Please, again, there really, really doesn’t need to be another commercial development on every single corner of 15-501.”

The concern over more developments was also on the minds of residents who spoke last week at the meeting.

“We just don’t want development after development along the corridor of 15-501,” said Susan Harris. “Do we really want 15-501 to be strip mall, strip mall, strip mall? I would hope you could give this some time so others can be aware of this as well.”

There was also some disagreement on how well a community meeting designed to discuss the development went. Both a submitted report from the meeting and comments from Fiocco Monday night indicated that residents in attendance at the meeting were more in favor of the rezoning.

“A lot of the concerns about the former Publix were expressed that this was a welcome change, that it was a smaller scale, that it didn’t have the massive truck traffic,” Fiocco said. “We’re not asking to zone this straight neighborhood business. We’ve put a lot of conditions on this rezoning. We’re sensitive to where we’re developing and our neighbors.”

He added that the change in zoning was consistent with the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan and that every effort would be made to minimize light pollution.

“We are pushing as much of the development as we can toward 15-501,” Fiocco said. “That’s probably 150-200 feet from the edge of the parking lot to the rear property line. We will meet all the lighting standards of Chatham County. We’ve done the analysis, and by the time the light gets to the property edge, it will be at zero footcandles [a measure of light intensity].”

But Christine Consoli, who attended that community meeting, said Fiocco’s comments and the report were in effect “put(ting) words” in their mouths and that many questions were met with an “I don’t know.”

“I think they grossly misread our reactions,” Consoli said. “There weren’t very many of us there. It really was difficult to get the word out.”

The commissioners took no action Monday night, instead passing the item onto the Chatham County Planning Board for discussion and a recommendation. Once the Planning Board votes, the commissioners will revisit the item.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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