Pittsboro board approves slew of items, reviews sewer system

Posted 7/26/19

PITTSBORO — Christmas came a bit early this year for Pittsboro’s Town Board of Commissioners, which approved a celebratory holiday “Santa House” during their regular meeting Monday evening. …

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Pittsboro board approves slew of items, reviews sewer system

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PITTSBORO — Christmas came a bit early this year for Pittsboro’s Town Board of Commissioners, which approved a celebratory holiday “Santa House” during their regular meeting Monday evening.

The board’s unanimous support of resident Mark Davis’ plan – which involved building and publicly displaying the celebratory structure for Pittsboro children next December – added to the almost-jovial mood that penetrated Town Hall as Mayor Cindy Perry and the Board unanimously approved every agenda item that came to a vote.

Festivities aside, the board’s relatively short agenda also included reviewing the town’s sewer system, naming a new park and discussing several local efforts for environmental stewardship.

Town Engineer Elizabeth Goodson and Bryan Odom, a representative from infrastructure consulting firm WK Dickson, showed the board a data-driven analysis of Pittsboro’s sewer system. The analysis ranked the town’s wastewater management components on a five-part “criticality” scale based on the likelihood of system failure and the severity of potential fallout. Many of the “at-risk” sewer components lie on the western side of Pittsboro near Hwy 64 W and Hwy 902.

Though Odom pointed out several areas of the sewer system prone to water “infiltration,” he had a positive outlook.

“It’s easy to focus on the negative, but there’s a lot of good stuff,” he said. “You’ve got a collection system that is in pretty good shape. It’s got some great opportunity to help tighten it up.”

Much of the data used in the analysis came from a joint effort between WK Dickerson and town staff, who used tools like cameras and smoke bombs to test approximately a quarter of the town’s sewer manholes for water infiltration.

“The highest opportunity to recover some stuff – we made that crystal clear – there’s a pipe that’s got a hole in it and it’s right underneath a creek,” Odom said. “And I don’t think it takes an engineer to figure out there’s probably some water coming in that pipe all the time.”

Later in the meeting, which lasted just under two hours, the Board voted to name a town park on Rectory Street “Lewis Freeman Historic Park” after the celebrated freed slave who reportedly “purchased his wife and children out of slavery to eventually make them free.” Freeman, whom Chatham County’s Historical Association calls the “first recorded and most successful black settler,” built a home in that area in 1811.

The Board also suggested placing a plaque at the site to honor both Freeman and late town historian Jane Pyle, who owned the land that was once Freeman’s. Pyle’s estate donated the land to Pittsboro for a park three years after her death in 2013.

According to Grimsley Hobbs, Vice President of the CCHA and the current owner of that historic one-room home, Freeman once owned almost all of the land parcels on that block.

True to form, the Board didn’t adjourn without narrowing in on local environmental issues. The group voted in approval of researching and developing a local Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for the Town of Pittsboro, citing studies linking certain herbicides and blood cancers.

According to the resolution, the program would “limit the use of chemical herbicides” and “give preference to available, safe, and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices when considering options for pest management and weed management on Town of Pittsboro property.”

“We’re not talking about a complete ban,” Mayor Cindy Perry said. “We’re not talking about preventing the sale of such herbicides.”

Pittsboro Parks and Recreation representative Paul Horne publicly supported the idea on behalf of his department.

“We certainly still use chemicals when we need to, appropriately, particularly for woody vines or ditches or that kind of thing,” he said. “But I don’t see any conflict with what you’re proposing and what we’re doing.”

The Board also passed a ceremonial resolution honoring Bynum Girl Scout Troop 1006 for their work on “Skip the Straws,” an environmental stewardship campaign discouraging plastic drinking straw usage among residents.

And Mayor Perry updated her colleagues on single-use plastic grocery bag usage throughout the town, suggesting a “public-private partnership” that would encourage residents to use reusable bags instead of plastic bags. She praised both the price and design of the reusable grocery bags available at Pittsboro’s Food Lion.

“They’re very affordable, and they have cute little slogans on them, like ‘Lettuce help you,’” she said.

As Pittsboro launches head-on into election season – and Commissioners John Bonitz and J.A. Farrell III attempt to keep their seats on the board – a bit of lighthearted banter seemed to serve them all well.

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