Wastewater request highlights ‘critical mass’ of shortage

Posted 10/2/20

PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners discussed on Monday the town’s limited wastewater treatment capacity before agreeing to table a sewer allocation request from the developer of …

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Wastewater request highlights ‘critical mass’ of shortage

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PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners discussed on Monday the town’s limited wastewater treatment capacity before agreeing to table a sewer allocation request from the developer of Mosaic and Northwood Landing until October.

The board’s focus was on the town’s often-discussed sewer capacity, after a wastewater treatment allocation request from Mosaic and Northwood Landing developer Kirk Bradley was discussed. In a letter, Bradley asked the town for almost 43,000 gallons of wastewater treatment capacity per day in order to continue progress on several ongoing development projects.

“As we have discussed, the lack of formally allocated wastewater capacity has reached a critical stage for the development of Mosaic at Chatham Park and Northwood Landing …,” Bradley wrote in a letter to the board. “Without immediate allocation by the (Town of Pittsboro), the timely development of these projects will be in jeopardy.”

Bradley — a partner in Chatham Media Group LLC, the owner of the News + Record — reminded the board that the Chatham Park projects had moved forward “with the understanding that … these capacity-increasing projects were under way, but also with the understanding that we had put capital at risk building our projects.”

In the letter, Bradley anticipates an estimated $30 million capital contribution to 19 Mosaic projects alone by the end of 2020. He also reported that the potential tax base valuation for the Northwood Landing and Mosaic projects combined is around $350 million. Moreover, his 43,000-gallon request won’t be the last of Chatham Park’s sewage treatment needs in the near future.

“We have a 165-unit project that would need 39,600 (gallons) per day,” Bradley said. “(Developer) Shawn (Beichler)’s grocery store, Lowe’s Foods, needs about 8,210. We have a hotel that is under way — or we think will be under way in the spring — they need about 16,000 gallons per day. So these are very large users. The retail buildings are two to four thousand gallons per day users, but they add up fast …”

Pittsboro Town Manager Chris Kennedy told commissioners he is willing to help provide a strategy report for the town and board that details “solutions” and “timeframes” regarding the town’s sewer allocation issues.

“This is kind of an overall prompt to the board, knowing that we have limited sewer capacity left … I’ll say, for the 110 percent capacity, is just over 40,000 gallons per day,” Kennedy said. “So we’re kind of at that supposed critical mass.”

Instead of focusing on a singular solution to enhance the town’s water treatment capacity — for instance, a proposed sewer line down U.S. Hwy. 15-501 to connect Pittsboro’s wastewater treatment with the city of Sanford — Kennedy suggested considering an assortment of expansion ideas to facilitate progress.

“If we just hang our hat on the Sanford line and it gets delayed, then we are looking at a de facto moratorium,” he said. “If we diversify our strategies, then we’ll be better equipped to approach it.”

Besides discussing the town’s water and wastewater woes, the board approved a site plan for a 50,000 square foot Lowes Foods grocery store, an 8,000 square foot retail space and a fuel station along Northwood High School Road as part of the Northwood MUPD (Multi-Use Planned Development). While the plan passed without much discussion — Pittsboro’s Planning Board had reviewed it in early September — Commissioner John Bonitz encouraged leaders of the project to consider a dumpster on the grocery store property set aside for compost.

“Food waste composting is a great way to reduce the volume of waste coming from grocery stores in particular, because the landfill material typically contains quite a lot of produce and other wasted food that can readily be turned into soil,” Bonitz said. “Again, Chatham County has two commercial composting facilities, one of which I know does accept food waste from grocery stores.”

Beichler, the developer heading the project, said his team is “certainly open to what that might look like.”

“The less that we can throw out in terms of garbage and debris, the better,” he said.

The board also approved a smaller rezoning request on a land parcel along Thompson Street after reviewing additional stipulations for the developers to follow, proposed by Commissioner Michael Fiocco.

Fiocco expressed concern over the property’s proximity to residential areas. He recommended a combination of fencing and buffer zones to separate the development from Thompson Street and nearby homes, citing a concern of “vehicular lights shining into the backyards of the residential zones.” He also asked that buildings on the property not be metal-clad, in order to maintain a certain aesthetic.

“I know during the winter months, regardless of how thick your (riparian) buffer is, that building is going to be visible from the residential areas, and I want to protect (residents) from having to look at a metal building,” Fiocco said.

Ways to stay involved

The meeting also revealed a few key takeaways for Pittsboro folks to stay involved in community efforts. Kennedy reminded the board and community of the upcoming U.S. Census, encouraging Pittsboro residents to participate.

“If you haven’t filled it out, please do so,” he said. “We need everyone in Pittsboro and in the surrounding area, in Chatham County, to submit those forms and that way we get the dollars we certainly could use and deserve.”

As part of his updates on the potential Boys & Girls Club project in Pittsboro, Commissioner Kyle Shipp reported that Pittsboro organizers are working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina — which oversees clubs in Siler City and Lee and Harnett counties — to narrow down potential nearby locations and start collecting donations. Shipp encouraged interested parties to contact him if they are interested in joining an advisory board for the group.

“If you really have a passion for children in Pittsboro, please reach out to me,” he said. “There are some specific needs for subcommittees as well in terms of fundraising, facilities, marketing and programming, so lots of ways to help there.”


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