Lawsuit filed over Chatham Park

Aug. 06, 2014 @ 05:36 PM

Non-profit group Pittsboro Matters and residents filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning against the Pittsboro Town Board for the rezoning approval authorizing Chatham Park.

The master plan for the 7,120-acre site, east of Pittsboro, was approved June 9 and has a proposed 22 million square feet of non-residential space and 22,000 residential units. As proposed, the project will triple the land size of the town.
The lawsuit makes nine claims against the process and procedures for the approval and adoption of the development, which is being led by Cary-based Preston Development.
“We’d like to see an improved development proposal,” said Jeffrey Starkweather of Pittsboro Matters. “We’re not trying to stop this at all; we’re not opposed to the concept.”
According to the lawsuit, the space, when completed, will bring in 15 times as many residents as lived in Pittsboro in 2010.
The lawsuit claims the following are “conspicuously absent” from the Chatham Park Master Plan: a utility plan showing the type and general location of existing and proposed public utilities such as water, wastewater and re-use water; a general plan addressing stormwater within Chatham Park; a boundary buffer plan showing transition treatments between Chatham Park and adjacent properties and a plan for development phasing within the park.
When asked about the issues the complaint highlights as absent, Preston Development co-owner Tim Smith said those are all things that the approved plan would resolve within the next two years.
Preston has two years to complete the development agreement, contained within the plan. And during that period, the developer cannot begin more than 5 percent of the residential construction or 15 percent of non-residential construction.
Smith said the company is disappointed by the lawsuit and believes the Town Board did “their due diligence” in allowing residents input.
He said the lawsuit won’t slow construction down and that construction begins on the site this week for a UNC-Chapel Hill medical office building.
Pittsboro Town Attorney Paul Messick said he has not had an opportunity to review the complaint and is not in a position to comment.
At the approval hearing in June, Commissioner Bett Wilson Foley was the sole vote against the plan. At the hearing, she said she didn’t think the town put enough protections in place to protect drinking water, although she supported the project for potential economic development benefits.