Pittsboro Board of Commissioners

Board talks new fees, OKs preliminary plans for subdivision


PITTSBORO — Commissioners met in two sessions on Monday, including a special work session to discuss a new system development fee and a regular meeting, where they approved a preliminary plat for a new subdivision. 

System Development Fees

The board started a special work session meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday evening, where interim Town Manager Kent Jackson provided additional information on proposed system development fees. 

Jackson said staff hasn’t made a recommendation as to what the fee schedule will be, but said the special session was called to help provide more information. 

“This is to provide additional perspectives to help us start to narrow in on an SDF fee or range of fees,” Jackson said. 

System development fees (SDF) are one-time payments made by developers to municipalities during construction to connect to water and sewer systems. The fees help pay for the connection, as well as to fund projects the town will need to take on to improve existing infrastructure to handle more residents using town facilities.

Engineering firm Freese and Nichols conducted a study to help determine the maximum SDF Pittsboro could charge per service unit. Currently, the town charges $4,200 to tap into the water and wastewater system. Freese and Nichols calculated Pittsboro could charge up to $39,000 per service unit, more than nine times the current fee. 

Public comments during the previous meeting addressed concerns, particularly at the jarring increase. Commissioners asked Jackson and staff to look into what neighboring municipalities were charging developers for SDFs to get an idea of what their fees could look like. The communities commissioners examined were Sanford, Apex and Fuquay-Varina, all of which are comparable in size to Pittsboro. Sanford charges just shy of $3,000 for its SDF, Apex’s SDF is set to $5,458 and Fuquay-Varina’s is set at $6,280 for residential developments and $5,250 for nonresidential developments. 

“There were a few things we were hoping to see and visualize with this,” Jackson said. “How do we stand currently with some of our neighbors? This gives us an idea of if … we’re disparate enough that we need to take it into consideration when we’re setting these fees.”

Jackson said the calculated maximum fee proposed to the town is “quite extreme,” citing a UNC-Chapel Hill study on SDFs, which showed only 15% of municipalities appeared to be charging a maximum amount allotted. 

“That gives another metric of how other utilities are using the analysis for setting a fee,” Jackson said. 

Commissioners had different ideas of how the SDFs should be arranged. Commissioners Kyle Shipp and John Bonitz both were interested in looking at having different SDFs for different types of development. Shipp said he was interested in looking into a scaled SDF based on the amount of square footage or based on whether the development would be residential or commercial. Bonitz added to Shipp’s comments, saying Pittsboro’s need for more commercial developments should be taken into account when setting the SDFs.  

“Because of our greater need for commercial development over residential development, perhaps we want to consider having the higher residential fee structure and a lower commercial fee, such as the square footage method,” Bonitz said. “I would like to ask our engineers to go back and to analyze that.”

Bonitz also said he wants to set a SDF “sooner rather than later,” and Jackson agreed, saying waiting too long could impact the timeline for a potential merger with Sanford’s water system. 

“We’ve had more recent conversations with them about some of the additional information that is needed in order to set a fee,” Jackson said. “With some of the major capital projects that also have potential implications for the merger, the city of Sanford has expressed some interest in us reaching an SDF fee at the earliest practical time.”

Jackson said staff will prepare an ordinance to set the SDF for an upcoming meeting. A date for that vote hasn’t been determined. 

A new subdivision
for Chatham Park

Commissioners also approved preliminary plats for a new subdivision, which would be located in Chatham Park. 

Pittsboro Planning Project Manager Molly Boyle presented the plans to the board Monday evening during the regular meeting session. The new major subdivision would have 70 single-family lots in more than 33 acres of space. 

Water and wastewater for the new development would be provided by the town of Pittsboro and the Chatham Park Water Recovery Center, respectively. The plat was found to be consistent with various town plans, including the Parks and Recreation masterplan, Bikes and Pedestrian plan and the Comprehensive Transportation plan. 

Shipp said he wanted to make sure the subdivision would uphold to public safety standards and have adequate parking. 

“This is an enforcement problem from us, rather than the developer,” he said. “I understand this meets all the requirements, but this is something we need to continue to look at.”

The next scheduled meeting for the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners is Monday, April 10, at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center. 

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.