PITTSBORO — The town of Pittsboro, Chatham County and Chatham County Schools will enter into an agreement by the end of the year for the redevelopment of the school system’s new Central Services …
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PITTSBORO — The town of Pittsboro, Chatham County and Chatham County Schools will enter into an agreement by the end of the year for the redevelopment of the school system’s new Central Services building located on West Street in Pittsboro.
In exchange, the town will supply the facility with sewer allocation.
The project is outside of the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and puts the property under the zoning and responsibility of the county. But when the county constructed the Chatham County Detention Center years earlier, Pittsboro agreed to provide sewer to that building since the land has challenges with installing septic. Because the town already has services in the area, the county requested the town provide the 3,100 gallons per day allocation for the central services building and an additional 1,200 for the animal shelter expansion at Pittsboro’s regular board of commissioners meeting on Monday.
Commissioner Michael Fiocco raised concerns about the county’s decision to move the Chatham County Schools Central Services building several miles out of town, combined with the additional strain the sewer allocation will place on the already strapped wastewater system.
“Three thousand gallons may seem like not a lot, but when compared to other uses, it’s a 75-seat restaurant, a 40,000-square foot shopping center,” Fiocco said. “It’s an allocation that would not be available for businesses in town.
“And I think the school central services is a fabulous use to have in town,” Fiocco continued. “That’s 120 employees that would come to town, plus visitors, clients, consultants and parents — folks that would come to town. It’s another piece of the fabric that we consider the county seat, the fabric of Pittsboro and a mix to the economy of Pittsboro.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Pam Baldwin echoed Fiocco’s concerns about the building moving out of town, saying she would “prefer for it to stay,” and asked whether the town had considered renovating the current building. County Manager Dan LaMontagne said the building, which was formerly a high school, was “not suitable” for its offices.
Fiocco also raised concerns about the future of the property where the current schools central services building is. He noted the county had suggested the site be used for mixed-use redevelopment and while open, Fiocco hoped that it would include affordable housing as well. He asked that the town, county and the school system to enter into a memo of understanding to make sure the property gets developed in a way that was “beneficial to the town” after losing this “very good office user.”
LaMontagne said that working with the town in redevelopment had “been the intention all along” and was concerned that delays in coordinating an agreement would take time and delay the construction timeline of the new building. LaMontagne asked that “in good faith” the town permit the sewer allocation and discussions on a agreement can continue without making it a contingency for the allocation.
Commissioner Kyle Shipp asked if the board would be able to approve the allocation with the caveat that an agreement be in place after a set period of time, rather than wait for the agreement before allocation. Commissioner Jay Farrell concurred with Shipp, saying he felt “strongly that we should move with the sewer allocation but also that we need something in writing.”
“Let’s motivate ourselves to do this,” Fiocco said. “Let’s get this done in two months or three months. We make it a priority, I think it’s a priority. It’s a loss for the town so let’s make it a win. We are all interested in affordable housing and I think we need a way to motivate them.”
Eventually, Shipp made a motion for the town to allocate the 3,000 gallons for the central service building contigent on having an agreement in place between Pittsboro, Chatham County and Chatham County Schools by Dec. 31. The motion passed unanimously.
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.