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Chatham County BBS

xx Police at Dollar General in Siler City yesterday
July 27, 2016, 01:59:58 PM by FLTransplant
There were a LOT of police cars there last night about 6-6:15pm. They arrived in a 'hurry' & jumped out of their cruisers and RAN in the store. I couldn't see if guns were drawn, I was a little too far away for that.

Just wondering what in the world happened. Hope everyone is ok.
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xx Postal Seafood Company coming to old Pittsboro Post Office
July 22, 2016, 11:40:22 AM by Patty52
Looks like the old post office building in Pittsboro will be reborn as a seafood restaurant.  I hope that they are able to keep some of the charm of that building and location, as I have very fond associations with it.  To read many more details about their plans for this project, go to the Kickstarter page linked in the article.

Former Carolina Inn chefs to open Postal Seafood Company in Pittsboro
July 22, 2016 5:53 AM

By Andrea Weigl

Chefs James Clark and Bill Hartley have left The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill to open a seafood restaurant in Pittsboro.

Clark and Hartley met about nine years ago working at the Grand Dunes resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When Clark took the job as executive chef at The Carolina Inn, a historic hotel and restaurant in Chapel Hill, in 2011, Hartley joined him as executive sous chef.

Their last day at the Carolina Inn was June 22. Now they have their minds set on opening Postal Fish Company in the old post office in downtown Pittsboro. They havent signed a lease yet but are raising money to pay for an architecture to draw up plans for the space.

They are trying to raise $7,000 by Aug. 6. So far, 16 people have donated about $1,400. For details, go to kickstarter.com/projects/735798926/postal-fish-company-3d-renderings-and-webdesign

Clark and Hartley envision Postal Seafood Company as a casual, full-service restaurant committed to serving fresh seafood from the coast. The pair made a name for themselves serving the underutilized fish on the menu at the Carolina Inn, like striped bass and white grunts.

The chefs plan to make local seafood the focus of this new restaurant, tapping into the relationships they have built with fishermen, oystermen, crabbers and shrimpers in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Twice a week, either Clark or Hartley plan to drive to the coast to buy whole fish and seafood for the restaurant. Were going to cut out the middleman to procure fish, Clark explained.

Fish and seafood wont be the only items on the menu; the men say they will be serving locally-sourced meat, poultry and produce. You wont have to be a fish lover to get a great meal there, Clark said.

The men see Pittsboro as a great location for their restaurant given the upcoming Chatham Park, a 7,200-acre residential and community development that is zoned for 22,000 homes north of Pittsboro. They hope to open the restaurant by late 2017.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/food-drink/mouthful-blog/article91213462.html#storylink=cpy
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xx Leaving Chatham and the BBS~it's been an experience
July 21, 2016, 04:26:22 PM by Wilderness Voice

Just wanted to say a final farewell to everyone.  I loved living in Chatham over the last 12 years and what a ride it's been.  I pray I've made a difference in our local mission work for those in need, this was a true blessing for me.  There will be a lot of changes coming to Chatham, regardless if you agree or disagree, change is coming and it will come much faster than I think most people realize ~ living in Ca we observed the barren dessert  of Palmdale CA where we used to going dirt crossing and only to 4-5 years with 80,000 homes spring up out of know where.

Our home sold in just a few days after being put on the market so we have to start moving quickly.

I want to thank Gene for his service to the community and Randall Rigsbee at the Chatham Newspaper, both fair and genuine individuals.  

Everyone be good and wish everyone well

I think what I'll miss most is eating out ar Halley Bells in Siler City

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xx On July 12, 2016 Chatham Planning Board voted 7-4 for county-wide zoning
July 14, 2016, 03:26:42 PM by Gene Galin
On July 12, 2016 the Chatham County Planning Board votes 7-4 to recommend county-wide zoning

George Lucier
Jim Elza
Caroline Siverson
Allison Schwarz Weakley
Tony Gaeta
Bill Arthur
Emily Moose

Brian Bock
B.J. Copeland
Cecil Wilson

A couple of videos of folks speaking during the public input portion of the planning board meeting -

Western Chatham resident Denise Dunn speaks against county-wide zoning
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/TynHfNTfFRM&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/TynHfNTfFRM&amp;rel=0</a>

Chatham citizen Mark Stinson asks planning board to slow down county-wide zoning plans
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/pehLPKjwpZs&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/pehLPKjwpZs&amp;rel=0</a>
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xx Judge Carl Fox returned to the Superior Court bench today.
July 11, 2016, 01:42:52 PM by Patty52
Carl Fox, the Superior Court judge for District 15B (Chatham and Orange Counties), received a standing ovation upon his return to work today, over one year after his diagnosis with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of blood cancer. The extensive search for a bone marrow match for him did not find one for him, but the next step, that of attempting an umbilical cord stem cell match, did find a match. The transfusion worked and today is his first day back on the bench. Congratulations, Judge Fox, both on your recovery and on raising awareness of this disease and for the need for African American participation in the bone marrow registry. Here is WRAL's article and the lovely video of the standing ovation he received upon entering the courtroom today.

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xx County-wide zoning zealots getting push-back from Chatham citizens
July 06, 2016, 12:21:12 PM by zorro
Once you lose the Independent Weekly......


Much of the eastern half of Chatham is zoned. But when you venture westtoward where this population growth will inevitably spillyou're more likely to find yourself in unzoned territory. And a lot of folks out therelike Mark Stinson, who lives near Siler Citydon't cotton to the government coming in and proposing changes to the way things have been for hundreds of years.

"They're trying to turn this into a middle- to upper-end bedroom community," Stinson says. "These are areas of zero to negative growth, full of family farms. There's no need to zone us out here."

Stinson and other opponents of countywide zoning were well represented at a commissioners' meeting in early June. The room was packed so tight that many citizens who sought to offer comments were unable to get in. But their voices were heard: "We like it here," a woman named Vicky Russell said. "If you don't like it, leave." Big roars from the crowd.

Paul White called for a referendum on the matter. "I believe my property is sacred," White said. "After I retire, I'd like to start a business on my property, and I'm concerned about the red tape I'll have to go through to establish my business. ... Why can't we let the people of Chatham decide? If you're not afraid of the outcome, it shouldn't be a problem." More cheers.

Others have been more measured in their critiques. Bruce Hively lives on ten acres of unzoned land off Highway 902 between Pittsboro and Siler City. "I know zoning's coming," Hively says. "I just don't agree with how they're not doing it in an orderly manner. They're rolling out the zoning before they finish the twenty-five-year comprehensive land-use plan. That's bass-ackwards, you ask me."

The comprehensive land-use plan is an effort, currently underway, to outline a vision for what Chatham County should look like in the future, given the fact that it's one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. It's not legally binding, more of a guide for where development should be steered, where infrastructure should be put in. In theory, zoning would codify that plan into law. But in Chatham, they're doing it the other way around. <-- Even the liberals at the Independent Weekly realize this is the wrong thing to do.

There is also, as White alluded to, concern about business in the unzoned areas. The way the proposed zoning would work is, essentially, if you're currently running a business on your property in unzoned Chatham County, you'd be grandfathered in. You'd also be allowed to expand that business should you want to. But after the zoning locks in, you wouldn't be able to change the nature of your business. You couldn't turn your asphalt company into a quarry, at least without getting it cleared by the county through the usual process of getting neighbors and the planning commission to sign off. (Agriculture and related businesses are exempted from the proposed zoning.)

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xx Commissioner Karen Howard doesn't care about anti-county-wide zoning opinions
June 28, 2016, 08:43:13 AM by zorro
From the Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2016 22:08:04 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Commissioners Meeting on Zoning

I attended the Chatham County Commissioner's Meeting on Monday evening. The Historic County Courthouse courtroom was filled to over capacity, with another 100 or so individuals listening on speakers downstairs.

What was the reason for such a crowd? Ostensibly to provide input to the Commissioners on the County's plan to zone all of Chatham County. Once the meeting started each speaker had three minutes to present comments to the Board.

Of those speakers where I could determine a strong position one way or the other, about 15 spoke against zoning, while about 10 spoke for zoning. Comments against zoning seemed to center around the lack of a need for zoning, lack of clarity around zoning rules and requirements, bad timing for zoning now, increased personal costs, creating conditions for uncontrolled growth, and the lack of concern by the Commissioners to listen to those citizens who will be subject to zoning. Several commenters stated that the Commission was going against the recommendations of its own Planning Board. Comments for zoning centered around a perceived need to protect farmland and Chatham County's rural character.

Most interesting to me was the discussion between the Commissioners after the public comment period. Commissioner Walter Petty summed up the concerns of many in the audience: that the people in the County were not made fully aware of zoning implications, that concerns could be better handled by regulations, and that County Commissioners, if they chose to, could continue discussions to find a common ground between pro- and con-zoning sides. Commissioner Howard said she found little value in hearing opinions from  Chatham Co citizens since she, and the Board, had already made the decision to zone. Commissioner Hales agreed that she was moving forward with zoning.

So, what value was this zoning meeting? It seems very little. The citizens who spoke against a rapid rush to zoning apparently have no valued opinions, particularly for Commissioner Howard, and the Commissioners are going to do what they are going to do. I'm not against zoning as a concept. I just don't think the current Board has the best interests in mind of those citizens who are opposed to yet another level of government intrusion and oversight into private property and into individual decisions, nor does it wish any further public discussion about their decisions.

What should a concerned citizen do? Bone up on what has already been discussed, on the positions and promises of our politicians, and on the actions of our county committees. There are three long-range planning meetings scheduled: June 21 at Horton Middle School, June 22 at Margaret Pillard Middle School, and June 23 at J.S. Waters Elementary School  (each from 5:00 - 7:00 PM). Attend one and provide your opinions. The next Planning Board Meeting is set for July 12: show up and give your thoughts. Attend the next Commissioner's meeting on July 18 and continue to express concerns about the process and lack of empathy for citizen input.

And, finally, you have the power to make changes. Vote in November.
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xx Hales, Howard & Crawford push for Chatham county-wide zoning without listening
June 28, 2016, 08:40:53 AM by zorro
From the Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:09:59 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Zoning timeline

Since zoning is such a hot issue in the county, here is a timeline (based on public records at http://www.chathamnc.org/index.aspx?page=457) of what has transpired to date.

March 2014: Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Bock asked county staff to explore creating a special zoning overlay, in response to mining near Goldston in the unzoned areas of the County.

April 2014: The existing Planning Board formed a Subcommittee to explore zoning options.

June 2014: The Planning Board Subcommittee produced four options to be presented to the Commissioners -
  Option 1 - extend zoning with an open use district.
  Option 2 - adopt a stand alone heavy industrial use ordinance
  Option 3 - extend traditional zoning, with special consideration for long-term development
  Option 4 - no action at this time (no generalized sentiment for zoning the unzoned protions of the county)

June 2014: Public input at the Commissioners meeting - several citizens complaining about a gun range near the Stray Cat Home (oops, I mean the Goathouse Refuge). Commissioner Petty remarked that zoning is all inclusive - either zoned or unzoned, and that zoning might have prevented the GoatHouse Refuge.

July 2014: The four subcommittee options presented to the Commissioners:
  Option 1: Open Use District - everything as is but regulate certain items. Incremental / quick fix.
  Option 2: Stand alone industrial ordinance. This would create a half-zoned county.
  Option 3: Extension of traditional zoning. Effective; concern about land use or updated vision for the county.
  Option 4: Do nothing at this time or get public input for the desire for zoning.
Commissioner Elza stated "The County Has To Do Something about shooting ranges and quarries". The shooting range comment was directed against a new public range called 2A.
There was general agreement from Commissioners that the public needed to provide input.

October 2014: County staff recommended getting community input, implementing open use zoning, and begin work on a comprehensive land-use plan.

February 2015: Commissioners Howard and Hales moved to delay county meetings on zoning and "present an alternative direction". Crawford, Hales, and Howard voted to delay meetings and ignore the planning commission recommendation. Cross and Petty disagreed.

April - November 2015: Numerous petitions against zoning presented to the Commission -  by the Chatham Co Livestock Association, Chatham Co Farm Bureau and many others. Many citizens spoke in favor of zoning.

October 2015: Noise ordinance discussed - not directed at Range 2A (of course not).

November 2015: The County Planning board (with several new members appointed by Crawford, Hales and Howard) presented 5 options to Commission (by a 6 to 5 vote of planning board members). Those were:
  Option 1: Leave Chatham County Unzoned
  Option 2: Apply Open Use Zoning to Unzoned Chatham County
  Option 3: Apply Traditional Zoning to Unzoned Chatham County
  Hybrid Option 4: Zoning in Some Areas of Unzoned Chatham County, and Open Use Zoning in Others
  Hybrid Option 5: Combination of Zoning, Open Use Zoning, and Unzoned Areas
  Option 6: High-Impact Use Ordinance
At the commissioners meeting was presented a Minority Report stating the zoning options as presented did not go far enough to control development in the county. After much discussion Commissioners Cross and Petty moved to accept the Planning Boards recommendation to not zone west of 87. That motion failed on 3-2 vote. Commissioners Hales and Howard then moved to extend zoning to all portions of the county. The motion passed on a 3-2 vote, with Hales, Howard and Crawford voting in favor, Cross and Petty voting against.

December 2015: Commissioners voted for R1 and R5 zoning during the 2:00 PM work session, NOT the normal 6:00 PM session.

March 2016: Commissioners set a date of June 6 for a public hearing on zoning.

No County Commission meeting minutes have been posted on the County's website since the March 2016 meeting.

I am not necessarily against zoning. Unconstrained growth is a problem - look at Chapel Hill and Cary as examples of that. We need a method to maintain the charming nature of Chatham County. I am against the one-size-fits-all, my-way-or-the-highway approach of certain Commissioners, and I am against their ignoring public input from those impacted by zoning.

This information and more is posted on my blog at https://countrylivingpolitics.blogspot.com.

Raymond Gastwaite
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xx What we need is smaller government and more churches
June 28, 2016, 08:38:36 AM by zorro
From yesterday's Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2016 11:42:38 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Long-Range Planning Sessions

I attended the Goldston community input session for the long-range planning committee put on by the Chatham Co Long-Range Planning Committee. Did you attend? No, I didnt think so, based on the turnout. You could have attended any time between 5 and 7 PM, and you gave up an opportunity to have a say in the countys direction. There were maybe 30 citizens at the Goldston meeting.

Trusted sources tell me that turnout was low across the three sessions at Pittsboro, Chapel Hill, and Goldston. Sources also tell me that the Pittsboro session included posters and information about zoning in the County. Apparently that generated so much interest that it was not presented at the Goldston session. When asked why, county staff reportedly responded that it would confuse the citizens, and that they only wanted input on the long-range plan.

At the sessions there were posters about county wealth and income distribution, housing, transportation, environment, and recreation. Citizens were invited to place sticky notes with their comments on the posters. County staff were friendly, knowledgable and very open to input from those attending. At least one commissioner was at each session. Hopefully we as citizens of the county will be able to see comments were given to the county staff, and before they have been homogenized by consultants and approved by the commissioners.

I keep wondering why the push for zoning so quickly. I dont see a lot of developers anxious to build McMansions in the southwest part of the county. Why? Perhaps because it is 30 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart!

The composition of the commission may change from the extreme liberal to more conservative in the November elections. After that, the zoning process may become more open to county input and may not fit current commissioner desires.

As always, follow the money. If zoning R1 and R5 is in place, anyone wishing for a variance will have to request permission from the board of commissioners. Permission requests cost money to file, perhaps additional money for legal fees, certainly for inspections and permits. Is the zoning push really a means of gaining more funds for the county which can then be spent by the commissioners on their particular priorities?

Overheard at the Goldston event was a comment that what we need is smaller government and more churches. How profound!

This information and more is posted on my blog at https://countrylivingpolitics.blogspot.com
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xx Chatham County taxes going up. Do you know how your money is being spent?
June 28, 2016, 08:37:03 AM by zorro
From this morning's Chatham Chatlist -

Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:56:59 -0400
From: Raymond Gastwaite
Subject: Chatham County taxes going up

Most of us have heard that our Commissioners are increasing property taxes in Chatham County. Do you know how your money is being spent? County tax information is posted on the Countys website - in 17 separate, difficult to read documents.

Here is a summary that I have compiled after reading through those documents.

Property taxes are going up 5.5%, by 1.19 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to a total of 63.38 cents per $100. That is top of an estimated 3.7% increase in your property values. Together those give the County $62.29 million dollars of property taxes to spend. And property taxes account for 58% of total county revenue. Total general fund expenditures are going up 7% from this year to next year, up to $107,430,261.

As an example, if you have a $250,000 piece of property, its value will now increase to $259,250. Taxes would have been $1,554.75. Now expect taxes of $1,643.13, an increase of $88.38. Think you own your property? Try not paying your county property taxes and see how long you keep it (but that is a post for another time).

Where do our Commissioners plan to spend that $107 million?

County Schools take up the largest portion of the budget, and will get a $1.5 million increase over last year for 3 more reading specialists, 5 teachers, and 10.5 teaching assistants, along with $700,000 in staff raises..

Next, staffing for the county will increase by 2.5 in social services, plus 5 more detention officers, an admin assistant for central permits, and one-half of a nutritionist. Staff will receive a 4% increase in salaries. Total county full-time equivalent staff increases from 477 to 507, which is $39,155,539 in salaries and benefits. The largest department is the Sheriff's office, with 160 full-time equivalent staff.

Health insurance (how is that Obamacare working for cost control?) is going up 15%, or $650,000.

Increases in social services include a new affordable housing commission, converting the Henry Siler School to low income housing, and addressing substandard housing.

Individual county department increases are
  Central permitting - up 22%
  Inspections - up 16%
  Schools - up 5%
  County attorney - up 38%
  Economic development - up 46%
  Emergency operations - up 20%
  Human services agencies - up 53%
  General services (Im not sure what all this includes) - up 47%, to $12,400,000.

Our fire districts also want more money.
  Goldston from 8 cents to 9 cents per $100.
  Northview from 8.3 cents to 8.6 cents per $100.
  Bennett from 8 cents to 9 cents.

And we are buying capital improvements.
  $236,500 for bike lanes (can someone post where these will be?)
  $6,200,000 for the new Health Services building at CCCC (the first year of two years cost)
  $6,400,000 for a new high school (first year of of three years cost)

The three biggest areas of expense are
  Schools, at $36,800,000
  General services, at $12.5 million
  Social services, at $10.8 million

So, are you satisfied with giving more money to the Commissioners to spend as they see fit? If so, that's great, as they certainly are spending more of our money. If not, well, November is coming. Either way, go vote.

Thanks for reading this. See this and more on my blog at
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