Time to slow down and reconsider what is at stake


To the Editor:

A significant proposed amendment to the Small Area Plan for the North Village has been recently submitted by Chatham Park to the town of Pittsboro. This proposed amendment includes major changes to roadways and allocations of parks that would greatly impact the biodiversity across these thousands of acres of currently undeveloped forested land. Some of these changes will no doubt adversely impact the Haw River and areas to the north of this development near Bynum. 

I live in the Bynum Mill Village at the trailhead that leads down the Haw River to Pokeberry Creek. I walk that trail everyday. This time of year I am surrounded by bird song as the many different kinds of warblers fly through. This is a haven of biodiversity! I hear the loud thwack of a beaver tail and spot its angular head before it disappears underwater. Not far beyond it I see two otters bobbing up and down, in and out of the river looking at me with curiosity. Wildflowers are in full bloom as I walk. 

However, when I get beyond the island that separates the view from the far bank, and I see that far bank, I grieve at what will be. I hear pileated woodpeckers and barred owls on that land across the river that is destined to be clear cut and cut up into small lots with thousands of homes. I reach Pokeberry Creek and spot a blue heron fishing in the river — playing the waiting game — standing completely still until it finds the exact moment to plunge upon its prey. A bald eagle flies overhead and cormorants swim in the river. Turtles sun on rocks.

I fear that the town of Pittsboro is selling all this out. I am trained in environmental studies and anthropology. Therefore I understand both the ecological implications of putting such a mega development right smack beside all this biodiversity. In short, it will not end well. My anthropology background equips me to understand human behavior. I therefore get the lure of economic development and “progress” that has whetted the appetite of so many policymakers, developers and town representatives. I realize that plans are already underway.

However, I also realize that there is still opportunity to slow this process of these amendments to the Small Area Plan for North Village and to thoroughly review them in all their detail to fully grasp the implications they have to this precious Pittsboro resource of the natural environment that attracts so many people, families, interest groups (birders, dragonfly experts, etc) and contributes to the town coffers. Also to grasp the implications this has for what these changes will cost to the town itself and to its taxpayers overall. There is much fine print that is critical to consider, communicate about, explore options, etc.

Citizens can learn more about this proposed amendment on the town of Pittsboro’s website under the link for Chatham Park and then Small Area Plans R https://pittsboronc.gov/.



The writer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Anthropology at George Mason University.