SILER CITY — Town commissioners unanimously approved a request from chip manufacturer Wolfspeed’s development arm, G5 Investments, to rezone 82 acres of land adjacent to the Chatham Advanced Manufacturing site as heavy industrial.
The acreage in question came from land recently acquired from private property owners, who sold their land to help make the Wolfspeed project a reality.
The vote came after complaints from a resident who lives adjacent to the property who claimed the town didn’t sufficiently alert neighboring property owners about the rezoning request.
Dean Betts, of Benjie Williams Road, also said he didn’t want Wolfspeed to be bordering his neighborhood.
“This is my backyard where I play with my dog, and you want to put a 200 foot-tall megasite up to my border?” Betts asked the board. “That’s repulsive.”
Betts said he and his neighbors experienced a sudden cut in internet and phone connections eight days ago. Because of this, he said he and his neighbors weren’t able to prepare for the public comment for the rezoning request.
Betts went on allege the town’s planning department hadn’t given him all of the documents needed to present his case to the commissioners.
“To date you have only made available for review a couple of maps and a limited rezoning application,” Betts said. “This is insufficient to be able to properly respond to the proposal.”
Going out in public to receive documents is a risky venture for Betts, he said — he has a rare form of cancer and the treatments suppress his immune system to the point where catching a cold could have drastic consequences. He moved to Siler City three years ago for its close proximity to the Research Triangle Park, where he receives medical treatment.
He said he feels the board and town staff aren’t making the residents of Benjie Williams Road a priority in their planning process.
“Why are you coming for 87 acres of residential property up to my property line,” Betts asked. “That’s going to be a tough question for y’all to answer … they want to come 87 acres east right up to my house. That’s repulsive.”
Siler City Community Development and Planning Director Jack Meadows said after the meeting the board’s rezoning vote didn’t involve any site plans or definitive borders other than the parcels indicated on the application.
Meadows said the rezoning application file only included the application itself, some maps of the CAM site and a list of neighboring property owners, on which Betts was named.
According to the maps provided by Meadows, Wolfspeed will utilize the northern half of the parcel bordering Betts’s house, which is over 700 feet from the portion of Wolfspeed’s parcel. In addition to the 700 feet, town ordinances will require developers to have an extra buffer of 100 feet because of a creek that runs inside the half parcel for Wolfspeed, and according to Meadows, it is likely the megasite will be around 800 to 1,000 feet away from Betts’s land once plans are approved.
“We don’t even know where the building is going to be yet,” Meadows said. “That comes later in the development process.”
Meadows also said the site plan approval process would most likely address Betts’s questions and concerns, which will happen at a future date.
“This is a rezoning case, and it’s only a rezoning,” he said. “The board voted on an ordinance to accept the rezoning request. That is what happened tonight.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.
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