Monday, August 6, 2007

Cheery shopping versus shopping sprawl in Pittsboro

New shopping centers in the area don't have to be all asphalt parking spaces and concrete box stores. Most development now comes with a predictable sequence of construction steps - clearcut the land, remove all signs of trees and vegetation, build long lines of strip shopping stores or scatter big box stores all around a huge expanse of land, then at the end of the proccess come back and pave any remaining soil in the area with asphalt and concrete. To top it off, put up lots of signs, a few stoplights and a tower of store names on signs by the road and call it progress.

It's all about greed and profit. Builders make every effort to cut costs and maximize profits on any construction project and shopping centers are a showplace for the lack of interest in how the community and shopping should blend. If town planners and Boards of Commissioners don't require that trees be left or added back after construction, new areas end up with no greenery at all.

Look around at every new major construction project and you will find one or more builders that control the design and construction to carve out every penny of profit, then heads home every night to live in a mega-mansion and drives to the coast on weekends to a mega-mansion multi-floor beach home.

Read the commentary by Dan Cahoon published in the Chatham County Journal Weekly about development trends in the area and what happens when new development comes in...
Chatham Journal Weekly
August 6, 2007
Dan Cahoon

Shop till you drop at cheery shopping centers

Pittsboro, NC - There are many reasons why a shopping center or large paved area may be a bad idea for the area in question. Any development creates change in the landscape and what we see around us. Trees get downed, meadows and wetland plowed under. That would happen with any kind of development.

A shopping center would require the kinds of parking areas that concentrate runoff with other byproducts of current automobile use. Retail establishments require large amounts of water use and little of it is released in a pure state back into the environment. These types of effects upon our local environment and overburdened waste water treatment facilities are unacceptable to me and to many others.

I also like clean, well maintained buildings in which to purchase needs and luxuries, however, I do not care for over lighted, over air conditioned, over priced, understaffed discount and full priced retail establishments. They do not serve my needs and in the long run lead to urban and rural blight. They stop being cheery and wonderful after a few years and start looking seedy and useless.

I have shopped in these sorts of stores before and found many excellent customer
service representatives along with affordable products. I am not wealthy and so
pinch a few pennies occasionally. At my age though, I find quality to be worth higher prices. Junk is junk n0 matter what price.

I have also had many unpleasant experiences in those types of retail establishments both as an employee and as a customer. Outside interests rarely invest in local communities in a sustainable manner. Workers do earn standard minimum wages but the profits from these businesses leave the community and hurt local merchants.

Industry does not have to look like a factory or something like RTP. I actually find the park like atmosphere of some factories to resemble a campus. The industry the area in question is zoned for is not just for plants and big trucks. It could also be quiet research based industries that use green building and innovative facilities to save water and energy. These places can be managed in a way that helps people live the way they want and need, with less stress and more understanding.

We already have wonderful businesses in Pittsboro that are like this. We don't see them as an eyesore because they don't stand out like a sore thumb, or a Wal-mart, Marshall's, Dollar Tree, or giant hulking movie theater. The people who work there make sustainable wages and so stay in the area instead of moving away to get a "real" job.

Industry is a broad term that should be considered in context. The issue surrounding Pittsboro Place is one of zoning. Many people are alarmed at how fast zoning changes are being enacted. If the area is rezoned then there might not necessarily be a charming business and residential center built there. Some other developer might use the rezoning to outbid Pittsboro Place and come up with a different and not so charming "place".

This type of situation is about profit. The developers and land owners are hoping to cash in on investment. We understand. We like money. We need money, for living and the support of community. We want those local people who have invested to cash in, hang around and spend locally.

I hope we see some good sustainable development of the industrial area off of 64 East, soon! We are a great town for families and intelligent kind people to make home. They won't come here and settle and help us grow into the community we want to be if there is a failed shopping center and urban chaos like we see in Siler City, Ramseur, Cary and now Apex.

We also have large scale energy industry already in that area that needs room to grow. If you haven't seen the organic farm and
greenhouses at Piedmont Biofuels then you should go take a look. It is amazing and will change your outlook on Pittsboro Place. The bio farm and other facilities are the kind of industry we need, want and have. Original article...

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