Pittsboro considers bicycle, walking plan, looks at tree protections

Posted 8/16/19

PITTSBORO — With two of its more vocal commissioners — Commissioners John Bonitz and Michael Fiocco — absent, the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting on Monday was more …

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Pittsboro considers bicycle, walking plan, looks at tree protections

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PITTSBORO — With two of its more vocal commissioners — Commissioners John Bonitz and Michael Fiocco — absent, the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting on Monday was more discussion than deliberation.

The board heard a brief presentation from Jeff Jones, the town’s planning director, about a request from the board to research tree protection ordinances to include in the town’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). While the board deliberated extensively regarding the tree protection ordinance for Chatham Park, the remaining areas of the town were without similar regulations.

Jones provided the board with tree protection ordinances from the North Carolina towns of Matthews and Davidson to review and consider as models for what Pittsboro commissioners may want to add to the finished UDO document.

“I chose Davidson because they are one to take great pride in their trees,” Jones noted, encouraging the board to look at sections regarding percentage of trees per zoning district.

The board will also need to determine if there will be a payment in lieu for tree protection as well as who will ultimately be responsible for replacing trees in developments and the right-of-way.

Based on “development patterns” outside of the Chatham Park area in Pittsboro, Jones said that he believed the board had “a little bit of time” to work on the ordinance. The subject will likely come up for review in a workshop in September.

Jones also provided an update on the development of a bicycle and pedestrian plan for the town. Jones believes the process is “halfway through” with the committee having met two times. A draft of the plan should be complete by the end of the month followed by a period of review by staff. The draft plan will then be available to the public for comment; a public review is planned to occur from 4 - 6:30 p.m. on October 22 at the Holmes meeting room in the Chatham County Community Library. The N.C. Dept. of Transportation will also review the draft plan prior to the board’s deliberation which is anticipated to occur in December.

There were also discussions about two board directives — bans on plastic bags and herbicides. Bryan Gruesbeck, the town manager, noted that after discussing the use of herbicides and pesticides with Utility Services Director John Poteat, he could report that public works employees have discontinued use of any pesticides that contain glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup which has recently been the subject of multiple court cases where users claim use of the product led to cancer diagnoses. Poteat, Gruesbeck said, has been using a non-toxic formula for sewer easements and other areas that require treatment. The product is one developed and sold by Homs, LLC located at The Plant on Lorax Lane in Pittsboro.

Commissioner Bett Wilson Foley also shared a positive experience she had recently at Food Lion, one of the businesses the board has been working with regarding the plastic bag ban. She noted that the cashier asked her if she brought her own bags. Foley had left them in her car and told the cashier she didn’t want to hold up the line. The cashier then responded with “these are only 99 cents and I can fit everything into two for you.” Foley was delighted by the exchange and was hopeful that the work the town was doing was moving toward a positive result.

The meeting ended with a closed session for the board to consult with the town attorney about pending litigation.

The next meeting of the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners will take place at 7 p.m. on August 26 at Pittsboro Town Hall located at 635 East Street in Pittsboro.

Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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