To clarify the reporter's statement that the developers will "help defray" costs of new infrastructure: they are only offering to help pay for additional planning staff etc, and the wording may allow them to do this by hiring their own consultants, rather than full or partial funding of independent personnel. This is already happening with one of their consultants involved in starting a "re-visioning" project for our downtown.
The developers have never offered and are not offering now to pay one dime extra to help pay for the new fire/EMS/Police stations, libraries or the twelve (or more) new schools, nor, more importantly, to help fund the new and larger water plant and sewer plant to serve this new city. Pittsboro's bond rating does not currently allow us to issue bonds to pay for these. The mayor is right to be very concerned about what this approval would mean for our town.
This is also the first I've ever heard of John Sall of SAS being in any way connected to this project, financially or otherwise. I believe this may be incorrect. When Goodnight was interviewed on WUNC radio he sounded annoyed to be asked about Chatham Park, said "I'm just these guys' banker," he didn't say "we."
As for "the new RTP" only 10% of Chatham Park's acreage has "R&D" as a permitted use, the rest is dense residential and commercial/business, and that 10% has so many other permitted uses, and is not guaranteed to be kept open for "clean-tech" recruitment, contrary to the PR/spin. [The R&D percentage available is higher on paper, 12%, but some of it is already leased for a solar panel "farm".]
Jim Goodnight, who claims he is just "these guys' banker" (Preston Development) has not been involved in lobbying town officials, and refused to be drawn into a discussion about it's pros and cons when interviewed on WUNC Radio.
Opponents don't have to "argue" about its location in a vital watershed, those are facts.
A million people depend on water from Jordan Lake and will be paying more for water as the lake continues to degrade, and that water becomes more expensive to treat.
Myra: I believe that all the tracts of land involved were or are in timber or in mixed forest, large amounts of it forest of "statewide significance" according to a recent study, and not farmland.
Ron: According to Monday's night's presentation, this will not be housing to serve the Pittsboro area's current minimal jobs, but a self-contained community to attract global corporate HQ and similar companies like RTP, but the housing would be built first in order to attract those, and to attract the retail tenants. So it's a gigantic gamble that was has worked in the past, will work for another 50 years.
(Incidentally, RTP disputes the claim that they are close to full up, and has a new development plan to include mixed use.)
Preston Development's record is to build more expensive homes on small lots. However, the two design firms (Blakfield and Sasaki) are in a whole different league, they have built these entire new towns with lots of high rise buildings in their office parks and "downtown" mixed use areas, but those downtowns seem to lag behind the housing for decades.
Every mixed use project in Pittsboro or Chatham has to date failed to do more than build housing (Briar Chapel) or housing with some commercial highway outparcels (Powell Place), obtained one commercial outparcel tenant but otherwise laid fallow (Pittsboro Place) or just failed, period (Westmoore). Even Preston Development's own smaller mixed use project on part of their land around the 64 bypass "didn't work" they say, so now they claim they are going for something grander.
The most serious issue for the Town is that any area annexed would be entitled to sewer service and the projects's expected sewage treatment amount would use up most of the Town's new discharge cap, obtained as a permit for a new plant which is (a) not yet funded and (b) uphill from much of the development. What the developers plan is a series of six small treatment plants (they say "not package plants") that would discharge treated water into creeks, and even one into Jordan Lake.
If Mayor Voller thinks that getting Town taxes from the project "would develop goodwill" he is frankly nuts. For Chatham Park NOT to town taxes but increase town costs (and taxes) would clearly be a bad situation, but for the development to be annexed and entitled to even greater level of services is hardly going to improve matters, and make everyone happy, good grief. Plus then the Chatham Park residents would outnumber the rest of Pittsboro, and could control the board and town funding.
It also is incorrect for Voller to imply that because the developers own the land and have a right to build on it that we need to let them build what they want to a much higher density than is allowed under it's current zoning and our watershed ordinance. That's why we are going through this rezoning process.
CORRECTION! The Location of this meeting is at CCCC, Pittsboro (multi-purpose room) because of expected turnout. Room is not huge but Town Hall space even smaller.
Nothing in the submitted Master Plan restricts Preston Development to a 30 year build out, there is no timeline or phasing plan though one is required. The Master Plan, if not seriously revised would hand over control of the development by the town to the developer for decades.
This development totally dwarfs 751 south. View the maps and governing text document at this link.
It's a pity that the reporter was not allowed more space, even in the online version, to do this subject justice. The status is that the Town has held two hearings (i.e. one hearing that was continued from June 24 to July 22), and the Planning Board simply recommended approval with no revisions in spite of the many defects in the Master Plan (text), proposed incredibly high density in immmediate Jordan Lake watershed, and so on, all identified at the first hearing (as well as at the second. For those willing to look into both what is proposed and what has already been found deficient, the Town's website, linked to in this article, has a record of the first hearing as part of 6/24 minutes and much else as part of its agenda page for this last meeting/hearing, of 7/22. The Town's next meeting is August 12th. Because the land acquisition has taken years and much has been speculated about this project, many people are unaware of what is actually proposed (radically different than the combined grapevine/Preston Development PR. Many more people, sadly, know nothing at all.
I don't see this bill as either necessary at all, nor in being all that different from the Senate version (and I have read all 21 pages of this latest version). Two bad things have been taken out, there have been some tweaks but plenty bad remains, and in two important places the improvements are deceptive.
If this is such a great bill, how come the rest of us couldn't read this version until the Commerce Committee had voted to approve it, yesterday (Wed.6/5)? The Senate version was sent to the House Commerce Committee THREE MONTHS ago (3/4/13). The fact that the bill is suddenly being whipped through two committees and the floor should set your spidey-senses atingle. And there's a whole second aspect to the bill besides fracking that I don't see being discussed, by the media, legislators, anyone. But first fracking.
1) Allowing underground injection well disposal of fracking waste, was in the Senate bill and not in this House version, goody, but the game isn't over until both houses pass the same identical bill, so that remains to be seen. And that of course goes for every single difference between the Senate bill and this proposed House bill
2) Another bad feature of the Senate bill that is removed in the house version was totally getting rid of the "landmen registry" (the guys who go round getting people to sign gas leases (or leases supposedly to look for gas where it isn't and then dispose of other frack waste, maybe… just sayin'. But the "improvements" re landmen, some additional language about misdemeanours and fines for fraud and deception, that doesn't go into effect until December.
3) Important to many legislators appears to be retaining the authority of the NCGA (Gen Assembly) to have an up or down vote after rules are developed, before permits are actually issued for fracking to begin. The Senate bill pre-authorizes that process, now, close to two years early. The House bill allows DENR to issue permits that aren't effective until the NCGA votes, according to the bill sponsors and media, but actually the bill's wording doesn't say that vote has to occur in 2015, or after the rules are through the long process and on the books. The wording is so vague, that vote could happen any time. My bet is on them trying to get it done before the Nov. 2014 election, just in case.
4) Like the Senate bill, this bill would allow the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) to develop a single permit system, which would be issued by the new gas and oil program inside DENR. I worry that this means one of several bad things. Either the state experts on a whole variety of impacts, who would normally be evaluating several separate permits, will be consulted but could be overridden by the O&G folks, or they simply won't be consulted at all, and permits will be rubber stamped. Without this single permit, the state's residents would be more protected through permits related to: water withdrawals, surface water quality from waste discharge or impoundments, groundwater quality and separation from fracked layer, soil erosion, air emissions, solid waste disposal on and on….
In addition to fracking there are two other bad aspects to the billL
A) Locks us into a pro-offshore drilling position through a variety of measures, without a real cost-benefit analysis (tourism is a big biz in NC, and coastal tourism brings tourist money to other areas of the state), nor a real public referendum on do we want that. (No revenue to the state until the spill response fund reaches $500 million.)
Like the fracking aspect I don't see this as job creation because so many unemployed workers in NC right now were factory workers, quite a lot of them women with kids, and I don't see them getting hired to work on oil rigs, as long distance truck drivers etc. Most fracking and oil drilling jobs go to highly skilled workers who move around the country, which also means they work long shifts and then go home for a period, so their local economic impact is small. But I digress.
B) Discussed not at all as far as I can see are the 9 out of 21 pages in the bill where, rather than replace members of an existing board, NC's Energy Council, as was done to so many others earlier this year (S.820), the budget and more importantly, authority and responsibilities of a board are co-opted to create an entirely different one with an opposite mission and stacked with appointees from the extractive industries (and Duke Energy, and railroads). This way the desires of these industries become the official policy of the state.
The existing Energy Council consists of appointees with expertise in energy efficiency, industrial and building systems, construction, and so on. Now the new "Energy Jobs Board" would oversee building codes, and efficiency standards, but lack anyone with any expertise at all. Rather the Energy Jobs Council would be filled with appointees who represent energy production/transportation/retail companies whose interest lies in our using more product; so the net effect would be unnecessarily increased costs for state residents and businesses.
Worse, where it was the mission of the existing board (decades old) to help the state get more bang for its energy buck, which reduces costs for everyone, the new board is tasked with finding and using up the state's energy resources at as rapid a rate as feasible. (Senator Newton, do you call yourself a conserve-ative?)
The renamed and reoriented council is moved from Dept. of Commerce to DENR, even though it is now even more suitable to Commerce than before, focused on industry promotion. However, the underlying purpose here might be the defunding of the State Energy Office which has a stellar record of helping NC businesses to cut their energy budgets, but has been a thorn in the side of Duke Energy et al for years. If it moves to DENR this bill says it would be staffed through the oil and gas program inside DENR, so no expertise in the fields from there, either
(There's a possibility that McCrory wants this new effort over at Commerce so I'm waiting to see if there's an amendment on that tomorrow. )
This is not a press release.
Nothing proves the point better that these "605" meetings are a really bad idea than the fact that Duke and Progress have got nuclear power included as a "renewable" in S3. Good work INDY!
You could say these meetings are just an organized extension of the greater influence that utilities have in our legislature than do the plain facts, or our planet's future, or hard-working constituents.
Example: I sat in with my Senator and provided him research and chatted with him for 20 mins about the global warming profile of nuclear power but many months later he seemed to have been turned around.
Okay, major correction: This otherwise excellent article says "While nuclear energy emits little if any greenhouse gases, it generates radioactive waste..."
"Nuclear energy" is derived from a non-renewable mined source (uranium) which is intensively processed, and the overall emissions triggered by the operation of a Shearon Harris sized nuclear plant are almost the same as a similar sized coal plant, and some of the greenhouse gases emitted during fuel processing are far more dangerous than carbon dioxide (CO2).
The fact that CO2 doesn't come out of the cooling tower is not the point. At a relicensing meeting for the Harris plant (20 years premature by the way) Progress Energy employees were sporting stickers that actually said "Nuclear Stops Greenhouse Gases" er, well, no, it can't do that!
Nuclear power could be as safe as houses but it still wouldn't get us out of our carbon fix. In addition there wouldn't be enough uranium available globally to fuel thousands of new plants even if they could be built in time.
This is just a one-two scam. 1) to fill up any renewable portfolio percentage with nuclear plants the big utilities are planning to build anyway.
2)maybe to get whatever additional subsidies are going in addition to those they would already be getting. Oh and 3)maybe down the line suck up some NC Green Power money (which would also mean some people not signing up for it. (Have you?)
For better explanation of the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and its greenhouse gas emissions, and the limits of global uranium supply, go to www.feasta.org (an Irish sustainability conference group). Click on "Energy and Climate" and look for "Why Nuclear Power cannot be a Major Energy Source," by Dr. David Fleming. Or paste this link:
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Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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