Letter to the editor: Water quality, habitat concerns dismissed by Chatham Park

By Joy Hewett
Posted 3/24/21

To the Editor:

In Mr. Horner’s recent article promoting Chatham Park and Mosaic (“As pandemic wanes, Chatham Park going, growing in a ‘great direction,’” March 11-17), the phrase “the …

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Letter to the editor: Water quality, habitat concerns dismissed by Chatham Park

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Posted

To the Editor:

In Mr. Horner’s recent article promoting Chatham Park and Mosaic (“As pandemic wanes, Chatham Park going, growing in a ‘great direction,’” March 11-17), the phrase “the loud objections of environmentalists” dismissed concerns about water quality in the Haw River and Jordan Lake, and the destruction of forests and habitat for wildlife, as “loud” instead of important.

Our serious environmental concerns include:

• Chatham Park Investors (CPI) dismissing the 2,000 buffer along the Haw River in Pittsboro’s Land Use Plan map. The buffer was intended to mitigate storm water runoff and flooding, provide a corridor for remaining wildlife and conservation of valued natural areas, and protect water quality downstream in Jordan Lake — a major source of drinking water.

• More recently, N.C Dept. of Water Resources’ denial of the 401 permit that would allow destruction of streams and wetlands by CPI and NC DOT to construct North Village and North Chatham Park Way.

• Objections to the plan to move the Park Way on to neighbors’ property and destroy their quality of life, instead of keeping the road, which will primarily benefit the new Chatham Park businesses and residents, on undeveloped CPI land.

• Dismay CPI ignored the 2008 Southwest Shore Conservation Assessment recommendations for lands purchased by Preston Development to conserve critical lands and provide additional buffers for streams, trails, and game lands.

Among concerned environmentalists called loud were water quality experts, scientists on biodiversity, and wildlife experts. Speakers at town board meetings included advocates for climate crisis reduction regarding the impacts of rooftops and parking lots replacing carbon-sequestering forests; naturalists alarmed about the loss of plant species with bulldozing; bee keepers concerned about loss of tulip poplars, a primary food source for bees in early spring; and historians wanting to preserve valuable conservation resources.

1,449 community members signed a petition for protection of the 2,000 foot buffer for the Haw, and for greater retention of existing forests and trees. Instead, CPI obscured minimum tree coverage with a shell game of tree planning areas — many on stream buffers already requiring trees to be protected.

The risks of disturbing eagles nesting along the river, endangered and threatened species of mussels and fish were ignored.

Saying parks and greenspaces overcame those objections is inaccurate. While these are good for the community, they do not overcome environmental damage to the watershed of the Haw River. A community newspaper should provide balanced, fair, and accurate coverage of all these issues as it promotes development around Pittsboro.

Joy Hewett
Pittsboro

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