Pittsboro appoints new chief, rezones land, honors late mayor

Posted 10/28/20

PITTSBORO — The town’s board of commissioners swore in a new police chief on Monday before addressing matters of land development and honoring the late mayor of Siler City, John F. …

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Pittsboro appoints new chief, rezones land, honors late mayor

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Posted

PITTSBORO — The town’s board of commissioners swore in a new police chief on Monday before addressing matters of land development and honoring the late mayor of Siler City, John F. Grimes.

After six months without a police chief, Town Manager Chris Kennedy has made one of his first major public decisions with the selection of Lt. Clarence “Shorty” Johnson Jr. to fill the role.

Johnson has served as Pittsboro’s interim police chief since Chief Percy Crutchfield’s retirement in March. Johnson has worked in law enforcement since 1994, starting his career with the Chatham Sheriff’s office before moving to Siler City’s police department in 2003 and eventually to Pittsboro in 2015 where he had been working as a detective before his promotion.

As part of his swearing in, Johnson pledged, in part, that he would “not be influenced in any matter on account of personal bias or prejudice, and that (he would) support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States and the constitution and laws of North Carolina…”

“I want to just thank you all and thank Mr. Kennedy,” Johnson said, “for putting the trust in me to lead the town. I’m looking forward to it — looking to continue working with the guys and pushing the police department forward.”

Town manager’s report

In his brief comments, Chris Kennedy reminded board members and the public that Halloween safety will require extra vigilance this year amid an ongoing pandemic.

“With Halloween being this Saturday I’ve worked with our police department to put together a few Halloween tips,” he said. “It’s pretty customary for the police department to put together some items for the safety of our citizens, our residents, as we do trick-or-treating and things of that nature in any given year. Certainly, now, in the era of COVID, some of those tips are a little more refined.”

The Halloween recommendations and guidelines will be posted to the police department’s Facebook page and the town website.

“I also have a couple of comments about our utility billing migration,” Kennedy said. “As many people know, we’ve been converting from one enterprise software to another enterprise software on the utility billing side. There have been a few hiccups as can always be expected with some of that stuff. We appreciate the public’s patience as we go through that in trying to get the online payments.”

The online payment system was inoperable on Monday, but Kennedy expected to have the system up and running within a few days.

Land development news

The board discussed and approved two plots of land for rezoning and development:

• A section of land near the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 64 and Roberson Creek was rezoned for development of a low-density residential neighborhood. The applicant previously requested and was granted rezoning of a larger portion of land surrounding the one in question on Monday. That both pieces of land were not rezoned at the same time last year was an oversight. “The applicant actually thought both pieces got rezoned (last year),” said senior planner Theresa Thompson, “but looking back it was only requested for the larger one to be rezoned.”

• Chatham Park Investors LLC proposed to subdivide 66.3 acres of land north of the U.S. Hwy. 64 bypass near Exit 383 into 154 residential lots. The subdivision will be age restricted to 55 and older and will include 110 single-family homes and 44 two-family duplex homes. Minimum lot size will be 4,200 square feet. The average lot size will be 6,176 square feet.

Other news

The town of Pittsboro read and approved a resolution to honor Grimes, the late mayor of Siler City, who died last Tuesday. It read, in part:

• Whereas Mr. Grimes served with distinction as Mayor of the Town of Siler City since 2013, preceded by four terms as a commissioner on the town of Siler City town board and one term as a Chatham County Commissioner; and … whereas, Mr. Grimes rendered invaluable service working for the betterment of his town and his community, Mr. Grimes was awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, … Now, therefore, be it resolved by the mayor and the board of commissioners of the town of Pittsboro that we hereby express our sincere sympathy to his family including his widow, … and be it further resolved that this resolution be spread upon the permanent records of the town of Pittsboro.

“We feel for the town of Siler City,” Kennedy said, “as well as (Mayor Grimes’) family and friends.”

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com

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