Chatham Park, Chatham County

Throughout the watershed, large scale developments are occurring at a rapid rate. In some cases, development and growth are necessary, and it is not always done poorly. However, when developers place profit over human and environmental health, Haw River Assembly and our passionate members will take action.  The largest of all these is  Chatham Park, a new city the size of Burlington being built in Pittsboro’s ETJ (extra-territoral jurisdiction) adjacent to the Haw River and Jordan Lake. It will be the biggest master plan development ever built in NC. Read our concerns below.

                                 (aerial view of  muddy waters from Chatham Park construction, near Hwy 15-501)

Chatham Park will be bulldozing  a huge portion of their nearly 8000 acre development, which is now mostly forested land.  As trees are replaced by buildings and roads, those hard surfaces will increase the stormwater flowing off the land, which can increase flooding and pollution to streams, and to the Haw River and Jordan Lake.  Chatham Park’s approval by the Town of Pittsboro included a requirement to use “exceptional design” to protect the environment, which includes managing stormwater. HRA believes it will not be possible to adequately control stormwater flooding and pollution with the number of houses and commercial areas they plan to build in this new city for 55,000 residents. We’re urging the Town for more trees and natural areas to be saved in this environmentally important land near the Haw River and Jordan Lake.

A general overview of our environmental concerns regarding Chatham Park can be viewed in this slideshow from 2015,  ” Conservation of Critical Resources in Chatham Park” 

An article HRA wrote that was published in the Chatham County line in September 2016 discusses “Is Chatham Park Sustainable”

Though the Master Plan has been submitted and approved, many aspects of Chatham Park are not set in stone, and we will continue to educate the public and our elected officials and advocate for the health of the Haw River and Jordan Lake. Chatham Park’s Additional Elements have not been approved by the Town of Pittsboro, and these elements could have devastating implications on the health of our river.

The  “Additional Element” for Stormwater, is analogous to Town’s Stormwater Ordinance, but applied just to Chatham Park PDD.  The Additional Element for Stormwater references a Stormwater Manual which describes a point system that is proposed to be used for subwatersheds within the PDD.  A draft of this manual can viewed here.  The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners has decided to hire a consultant to review the documents and to help them make a more informed decision about this important issue.
HRA has many concerns about what is being proposed.  We have compiled a list of QUESTIONS about Chatham Park’s Stormwater Manual and their “point system” which may actually reward contractors for doing what is already required by law.    Chatham Park’s response to all public comments (4/17) can be read at this link
In February 2018, we submitted additional comments to the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners on the latest version of the Stormwater Element and design manual. Read our comments here.
US Fish and Wildlife Concerns
In 2010, there was an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) turned in to NC DENR for an expanded  Wastewater Treatment Plant  permit for Pittsboro that would include a new discharges into  the Haw River. In that EIS, Pittsboro agrees that in regions of the Haw that will support the endangered Cape Fear Shiner, there will be larger riparian buffers and a zero percent change in the hydrograph after any development. This means that the water flow rate and quantity must be the same as pre-development levels, which is currently mostly forested land.The EIS can be found here.  The most recent letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service  stating the implications of this agreement by Pittsboro to protect the Haw River can be found here.