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Former Wake County Commissioner, Erv Portman, was interviewed by Charles Morris for the film 400 Feet Down. Erv is able to discuss the subject of the proposed Wake Stone Quarry on public vs. private land as few others can, given his past record of service to the community. Erv was also on a planning committee for the Town of Cary. This video is the full unedited version of that conversation from June 2019.
2:00 - A description of RDU Airport Authority meetings with consultant stating that airports and parks are incompatible. Erv counters this point
6:14 - There are good people with legitimate concerns on all sides. But when you look at a growth map of the RDU region, which one fits best use? Quarry or Forest?
9:40 - Appropriate use of land. Is it a sale or a lease?
12:17 - History of Odd Fellows
13:56 - Responsibility of the RDUAA
16:30 - Why does the RDU Airport Authority given so much authority and who appoints the RDUAA?
18:42 - Fiduciary Responsibility, FAA guidelines and leasing land for public good
22:00 - Time, value of money and compatible uses
24:10 - Greenways, community, engagement and communications between RDUAA and the people who appoint them.
27:46 - What is the best way for citizens to engage on this issue?
31:50 - An effective resolution
This full interview can also be enjoyed in Podcast format. Listen here: https://www.400feetdown.com/videos
A lot of development happened between 1984 and 2016 in the Triangle. What does that look like from the perspective of Umstead State Park? Will we squander our remaining greenspace for another quarry or will we expand Umstead State Park?
This video was created by Charles Morris and originally inspired by a segment in the movie 400 Feet Down. Music by Kiah Wells.
Written by William Doucette, Umstead Coalition Member
RDU continues to spread inaccurate information regarding the FAA's position about sales of non-aviation surplus property and requiring exploitation of the land.
Falsehood 1: FAA regulations prohibit RDU from selling land
According to Elliot Black, Director FAA Office of Airport Planning, FAA grant obligations and rules do not prohibit the sale of land for non-aeronautical purposes*. In fact the FAA has a review process for land sales with provisions that sale price is “fair market value” and the proceeds be used for airport purposes.
Falsehood 2: FAA’s “financial self-sufficiency policy” requires RDU to use its non-aeronautical land such as the Odd Fellows tract to generate revenue for airport operations
Director Black stated that the FAA “self-sufficiency policy” does not require land unneeded for aeronautical purposes (non-aeronautical land) be used for revenue generation.* Furthermore the FAA cannot require RDU to generate revenue from non-aeronautical land to satisfy its grant obligations including the financial self-sufficiency policy (assurance 24) .
Falsehood 3: FAA approved the quarry when it approved the Airport Layout Plan (ALP) November 20, 2017**
In fact the referenced FAA letter was only conditional approval with the following stipulations:
“This determination does not constitute FAA approval or disapproval of the physical development involved in the proposal. The determination was made with respect to the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace by aircraft as well as the safety of persons and property on the ground.”
The letter does not mention the quarry or non-aeronautical land uses. RDU deceives the public with any claim that FAA has specifically approved a quarry on RDU land. FAA has by this letter simply stated an opinion that the ALP with a quarry as proposed does not appear to adversely affect the safe and efficient operation aircraft or safety of people and property on the ground related to aircraft operations. This opinion was repeated in the April 29,2019 from Steven Hicks Director Office of Airports Southern Region***.
* Letter from Elliot Black, Director, Office of Airport Planning 800 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington DC to William H Doucette Jr. Umstead Coalition, dated September 11, 2017
** Letter from L. Bernard Green, CM, AICP, Airport Planner, FAA Memphis District Office 2600 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Ste. 2250 Memphis, TN 38118, dated November 20, 2017
*** Letter from Steven Hicks Director, FAA Office of Airports Southern Region, 1701 Columbia Ave. College Park, GA 30337 dated April 29,2019
January 15, 2020: Memorandum sent to: State Historic Preservation Officer and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources for the Office of Archives and History, NC State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and Administrator and Deputy Historic Preservation Officer, NC State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
From: Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition
Re: Request to PROTECT William B. Umstead State Park from proposed fence and logging detrimental to a protected property listed under the National Register of Historic Places and an effective “taking” of Park lands.
William B. Umstead State Park, including its forests, is listed under the National Register of Historic Places. The Site ID is: WA0721. Year of Registration: 1995. Listed under: ‘Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area” and “Umstead State Park, Raleigh, NC.” William B. Umstead State Park was established in 1934, well before the current RDU Airport.
Under a RDUAA’s proposal, visitors to the park will be greeted with 8' tall chain link fence topped by 3-rows of barbed wire on both sides of the East Coast Greenway as they approach William B. Umstead State Park from Lake Crabtree County Park. We believe this is NOT an appropriate entrance feel to a listed and protected property. And if the fence alone wasn't bad enough, RDU plans to clear cut a 30' wide path through the forest (15' to either side of the fence) for 8.3 miles, much of this along the border of William B. Umstead State Park (See attached Google Earth Graphic showing the proposed locations of this unnecessary boundary fence. Note, the extensive length of the proposed fence that would border within 10 feet of William B. Umstead State Park.)
Please find attached our letter of concern to NC State Parks. The proposed fence project (RDU Project No. 211140) has profound detrimental impacts on one of our most visited Parks in NC. To border our NC State Park with a security fence spec’ed for power stations or prisons is an insult to our Park visitors and certainly not in character with our Historic public property. Below is a graphic of the fence spec including the RFP for the fence.
Download a PDF of the email here.
January 15, 2020: Memorandum sent to NCDEQ
Reference: RDUAA Project No 211140, proposed 9’ chain-linked, barbed wire fencing, forest clear-cutting within protected buffers of Umstead State Park and Crabtree Creek
RDUAA is proposing a massive fence and logging project on the Odd Fellows tract WITHOUT an approved mining permit. We request that NCDEQ PREVENT this proposed fence project on the perimeter of the Odd Fellows Tract due to violations of the Mining Act of 1971 and existing Mining
Permit restrictions under Mining Permit 92-10. No fence should be allowed on the Odd Fellows tract prior to an approved mining permit, and certainly with no less than committed 250 feet of undisturbed buffer.
I. Violation of the Mining Act of 1971
The proposed fence would be in direct violation of the Mining act of 1971 (as amended). Section 74-49 (7) of the NC Mining Act of 1971 includes:
"Mining" means any of the following: (i) the breaking of the surface soil in order to facilitate or accomplish the extraction or removal of minerals, ores, or other solid matter; (ii) any activity or process constituting all or part of a process for the extraction or removal of minerals, ores, soils, and other solid matter from their original location; or (iii) the preparation, washing, cleaning, or other treatment of minerals, ores, or other solid matter so as to make them suitable for commercial, industrial, or construction use.”
The proposed fence and logging is an attempt to facilitate or accomplish extraction or removal. And, an attempt to SEGMENT the proposed new rock mine project. The proposed fence and logging would certainly “break the surface soil” with every fence post and every tree removed along it’s more than the two (2) mile portion encircling the Odd Fellows tract.
It is proposed to be 9’ tall (8’ chain-link topped with 3 rows of barbed wire) with 30 feet of clear-cut swath through forested uplands and bottomlands. In addition, RDUAA has stated the intent would be to “patrol” which would also effectively establish a road along the proposed fence.
The intent for Wake Stone Corporation to apply for a Mining Permit on the entire Odd Fellows tract is included in the public document dated March 1, 2019 entitled “Option and Lease Agreement” that was signed by the RDUAA and Wake Stone Corporation (Lessee). This document clearly states the intent for the fence to be part of the mining operation. Section 8(c) on page 8:
“Lessee shall be solely responsible to provide fencing, security and all other safeguards to prevent unauthorized entry into the Premises.”
As seen from the attached Google Earth graphic, the more than 2 miles in length of fencing/logging proposed along the perimeter of the Fellows Tract would create an isolated land “island” of the
Odd Fellows Tract. The proposed fence around the Odd Fellows tract is not needed for runway/terminal security as it would be 2 miles away from the runways/terminals - demonstrating the intent is an attempt to segment and bias the mining permit evaluation process.
The proposed fence is an attempt to segment the detrimental aspects of the proposed mine BEFORE an approved mining permit modification is issued. A clear violation of the Mining Act of 1971. The proposed fence project (RDU Project No. 211140) would have profound detrimental impacts on William B. Umstead State Park, profound detrimental impacts on Foxcroft Lake and
Crabtree Creek, profound detrimental impacts on wildlife, and profound detrimental impacts on adjacent private residences.
II. Violation of the Current Mining Permit 92-10, violations of the 250-feet permanent buffers
Wake Stone Corporation has publicly stated their intent to submit a Mining Permit Application for a new rock mine pit on the Odd Fellows Tract. They have concurrently stated their intent to submit their application as an “Expansion” of their current Mining Permit 92-10. Mining Permit 92-10 is for a controversial rock mine on the OTHER side of Crabtree Creek. The Mining Permit 92-10 includes conditions, including substantial buffers along Crabtree Creek and William B. Umstead State Park.
The proposed fence outlining the perimeter of the Odd Fellow tract is a violation of Wake Stone Corporation’s current mining permit conditions (Mining permit 92-10) that were added after DEQ denied their permit, as well as the commitments Wake Stone Corporation made to NC State Parks,
DEQ and the Mining Commission and included in the Mining Permit. Wake Stone Corporation’s mining permit is conditioned with a stipulation that it maintains undisturbed buffer zones; with the exception of the installation of required sediment control measures and approved earthen berms. The committed buffers in the current mining permit are 250 feet wide and do NOT allow a fence within the buffer zones. Under its permit Wake Stone Corporation could not include the fence, clear-cut zone and adjacent road as part of the undisturbed buffer.
The current Mining Permit 92-10 language includes:
“3.C Buffer Zones. All buffer zones shown on the Site Map revised February 26, 2018 shall be maintained to protect adjoining property. These buffer zones, with the exception of the installation of required sediment control measures and approved earthen berms, shall remain undisturbed.”
The proposed fence is an apparent attempt to circumvent this committed property buffer requirement along William B. Umstead State Park and Crabtree Creek. The proposal by RDUAA is to clear-cut the forest with only 10 feet buffer from the State Park boundary and 30 to 50 feet buffer along over 1 mile through the steep slopes of Crabtree Creek. And, maintain an effective path/road for ATV and other vehicles.
No fence should be allowed on the Odd Fellows tract prior to an approved mining permit, and certainly with no less than committed 250 feet of undisturbed buffer.
Former Wake County Commissioner, Erv Portman, was interviewed in June 2019 by Charles Morris for the film, 400 Feet Down. In this interview, Portman shares how the RDU Airport Authority (RDUAA) invited a consultant from Washington, DC to explain why parks are incompatible uses with airports. When Portman asks the consultant about Lake Crabtree Park (the RDUAA has an agreement with Wake County for the park) and Umstead StatePark being directly adjacent to RDU, the consultant responded by saying that recreational uses are not incompatible, parks are. Our question is, what about a quarry?
Watch this video to see what a $2.4M, 8' chain link, barbed wire fence will look like along the border of Umstead State Park, the East Coast Greenway and the Odd Fellows Tract. Join our hike on Saturday, January 18 from 10am-12:30pm to see land that's planned to be turned into a rock quarry. RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.
January 8, 2020: Memorandum sent to NC Division of Parks and Recreation and Park Superintendent for William B. Umstead State Park
Reference: Request to PROTECT William B. Umstead State Park and not build unnecessary fence
The proposed fence project (RDU Project No. 211140) has profound detrimental impacts on one of our most visited Parks in NC. As such, sufficient time for two-way communications and discussions of alternatives and solutions should be requested.
Under RDUAA’s proposal, visitors to the park will be greeted with 8' tall chain link fence topped by 3-rows of barbed wire on both sides of the East Coast Greenway as they approach William B. Umstead State Park from Lake Crabtree County Park. And if the fence alone wasn't bad enough, RDU plans to clear cut a 30' wide path through the forest (15' to either side of the fence) for 8.3 miles, much of this along the border of William B. Umstead State Park. This will totally destroy the natural beauty of the Western approach to Umstead State Park. And, sever a vital wildlife corridor along Crabtree Creek and Haley’s Branch. And, cause significant water quality issues.
Adding to the public insult, RDUAA’s RFP shows the proposed fence severing our most popular trail within William B. Umstead State Park, the Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail. (Bid Sheet C27 of RDUAA RFP).
We object to this offensive fence and deforestation along much of our Park border. (see the attached Google Earth map that illustrates the vast extent of the proposed fence that would directly impact William B. Umstead State Park).
I. Impacts to Water Quality
The majority of the proposed fence has a direct and detrimental impact on William B. Umstead State Park. All the airport lands managed by the RDUAA drain TO William B. Umstead State Park.
By “Bid Quantities” provide in the RDUAA RFP for the proposed 8.3 miles of fencing (attached), the following water resources would be affected with a deforested 30’ wide- swath and security fence:
II. The Historic Multi-use William B. Umstead State Park Reedy Creek Trail Should NOT be Severed or Moved
In addition, the proposed fence and 30’ width deforested swath would be cut along over 1 mile (yes, over 1 mile) through the STEEP forested slopes of Crabtree Creek, with minimal little riparian buffer for such terrain. (see Bid Spec Sheets C41, C42C43, C44, C45, C46, and C47). This stretch of Crabtree Creek is immediately upstream of William B. Umstead State Park and within the Odd Fellows Tract.
William B. Umstead State Park should NOT move its historic Reedy Creek Park Trail. The Park trail location was well established in 1934 and has been used and maintained (by Umstead State Park staff) in the SAME location as a State Park multi-use trail continuously for the last 85 years. All the multi-use trails in the Park were built upon the historic road beds. Before it was our Reedy Creek Multi-use Park Trail, it was the Old Middle Hillsboro and Reedy Creeks in the SAME location for 200 years prior. The Old Middle Hillsboro Road was the road to Durham and Hillsborough. See below the 1914 Soil Survey below (with today’s land use faded underneath) to document the historic roads.
It is the AIRPORT that encroached upon Umstead State Park (not the other way around as claimed by RDUAA staff). ALL of our Umstead State Park Trail (Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail) was INSIDE Umstead State Park from the Park's inception in 1934 until 1958. Our multi-use Park trail was built upon the historic road bed of Old Middle Hillsboro and Reedy Creek Roads. The location of the Park trail has NOT changed. In fact, it would be very expensive to do such.
What did change was a forced exchange of land in 1958 to allow for a safety zone for a runway (currently the short General Aviation runway) built too close to the Park by the US Government for WWII. A small portion of our Park land was forced to be traded with the airport in 1958 to provide for a safety zone for the WWII runway (see Wake County Commissioners minutes, Deeds Book/Page 1357/548 and 1358/590). That WWII runway is the General Aviation runway today.
When that forced land exchange occurred, the surveyors used the existing survey pin on the inside bend of the trail/road as the corner. The Park continued to use this major multi-use trail with collaboration from RDUAA. All of the Park maps clearly show the 1958 revised Park boundary with the historic trail location on airport managed property - there has been nothing hidden, or changed on the part of NC State Parks.
The Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail is maintained by NC State Parks. In addition, it has undergone two recent major renovations/investments. In 1989, the Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail received a major trail renovation project with the assistance of NCDOT, primarily due to the need for access to tornado-damaged areas. The improvements included grading, ditching, crowning, and graveling the trail to its former width (when it was a public road). And, in the mid-1990’s a major trail renovation project was undertaken by NC State Parks to improve the base and top screenings for horses and bike users. All keeping the SAME location and using the road base and location of the historic public roads. All these major trail renovations were done with coordination with the RDUAA.
III. Impacts to Wildlife Habitat and Historic Park Experience
William B. Umstead State Park, including its forests, is listed under the National Register of Historic Places. Is an 8-foot tall chain link fence with 3 rows of barbed wire along the top in the middle of a 30ft-wide deforested swath the image appropriate to form the border of a large portion of our prized NC State Park? To border our NC State Park with a Security fence spec’ed for power stations or prisons is an insult to our Park visitors.
The proposed fence would sever one of the last remaining connected wildlife corridors in the Triangle region along Crabtree Creek and Umstead State Park. This corridor is home to bald eagles, a protected Great Blue Heron nesting site, bobcat, and more.
See attached Google Earth graphic and figure below with the fence locations (from RFP) overlaid on the map with Park border and Lake Crabtree. Note, the fence would create isolated land islands.
In addition, the proposed fence would isolate Umstead State Park and severely limit (or perhaps prevent) the future of ability of Umstead State Park to provide new trails within Umstead State Park.
IV. Violation of the 250 feet Undisturbed Buffers Promised to the State Park in Existing Rock Quarry permit
The proposed fence outlining the Odd Fellow tract is a violation of Wake Stone’s current mining permit (Mining permit 92-10) and the commitment Wake Stone Corporation made to NC State Parks, DEQ and the Mining Commission when the existing quarry was permitted (after denial by DEQ). The committed buffers in the current mining permit are 250 feet wide and do NOT allow a fence within the buffer zones. The current Mining Permit 92-10 language includes:
The proposed fence is an apparent attempt to circumvent this committed quarry buffer requirement. The proposal by RDUAA is to clear-cut the forest with only 10 feet buffer from the State Park boundary and 30 to 50 feet buffer along over 1 mile through the steep slopes of Crabtree Creek. No fence should be allowed on the Odd Fellows tract prior to an approved mining permit, and certainly with no less than committed 250 feet of undisturbed buffer.
Written by Liz Adams, Research Associate at the UNC Institute for the Environment
The NC Department of Environmental Quality provides an online community mapping system that allows you to see facilities that have permits for air and water quality emissions.
From this online map, I was able to access the Air Quality Permit for Wake Stone.
It states the following:
FUGITIVE DUST CONTROL REQUIREMENT- As required by 15A NCAC 20 .0540 "Particulates from Fugitive Dust Emission Sources," the Permittee shall not cause or allow fugitive dust emissions to cause or contribute to substantive complaints or excess visible emissions beyond the property boundary. If substantive complaints or excessive fugitive dust emissions from the facility are observed beyond the property boundaries for six minutes in any one hour (using Reference Method 22 in 40 CFR, Appendix A), the owner or operator may be required to submit a fugitive dust plan as described in 2D .0540(f).
"Fugitive dust emissions" means particulate matter that does not pass through a process stack or vent and that is generated within plant property boundaries from activities such as: unloading and loading areas, process areas stockpiles, stock pile working, plant parking lots, and plant roads (including access roads and haul roads).
It appears we would need to show that the dust emissions were visible for 6 minutes. If I were to do this testing, I would want to wear an air filtration mask with N99 Filters, as I suspect that the dust from the quarry contains silica.
There is also an environmental justice mapping system: https://ncdenr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/5b65176a2d494271a871563846c974d7?ObjectID=35500
This seems to indicate a higher than the state average Asthma Hospitalization Rate.
Continue reading on Medium.com.
Written by the Capital Group Sierra Club
Umstead is a 5,559 acre forest which has seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors with 1.8 million visitors in 2016, a 38 percent increase over 2015. The sale/lease of 105 acres of RDU managed property to Wake Stone has put Umstead State Park at much higher risk for long term damage and exposure to environmental pollution.
There are many major concerns here. One of such concerns is the need to protect the multi-use trails within Umstead State Park that serve as arterial greenway trails connecting Durham, Cary and Raleigh. This multi-use trail is identified by the NCDOT as Bikeway Trail US-1 Carolina Connection. Another major concern is the need to protect Crabtree Creek, a class B-NSW steam in the Neuse River Basin. Something to understand here is that the Nutrient Sensitive Waters (NSW) is a supplemental classification intended for waters needing additional nutrient management due to being subject to excessive growth of microscopic or macroscopic vegetation. The entire Neuse River Basin including Crabtree Creek is classified as NSW.
Description of damage to the park
Removing the forested buffer of the Odd Fellows Tract and replacing it with a quarry will harm Umstead State Park.
Description of damage to the community environmentally
Worst case description
The lease of this land for a quarry will harm the health and safety of over 2 million visitors per year to Umstead State Park for 25+ years. The quarry may sever or severely impair the east-west portion of the Cross-County connection between Durham County and Wake County through Umstead State Park. Active transportation users can currently travel north to south on the American Tobacco Trail or the Neuse River Trail, and east to west between the trails that go through Umstead State Park. This east-west connection is currently the only safe route for bicyclists, runners and pedestrians going between all of these major municipalities. (Note: building the connection between Crabtree Creek Greenway and Umstead State Park’s Turkey Creek and Cedar Ridge Trails on the other side of Umstead State Park was delayed over 20+ years due to litigation between the City of Raleigh and Hanson Aggregates Quarry.)
RDU Authority has the purpose of serving the community and must consider functions which assist in that purpose. The Sierra Club does feel that other uses such as a forested recreation land use as offered by the Conservation Fund is a better choice than the quarry. Once the rock is removed, the 400 feet deep quarry pit will remain and there will be no way to return it to a scenic and environmentally supportive use.
Concerning preservation of open space or public property
The Sierra Club will always strive to promote efficient use of our natural resources, especially in urban areas as growing cities are encroaching upon our natural resources. We believe that it is imperative that we can conserve open space wherever possible, as doing so would promote better quality of life and infrastructure in a growing city like Raleigh. Furthermore, as Sierra Club is committed to the advocacy of equity, inclusion, and justice, we want to ensure that everyone can benefit from the preservation of open space regardless of backgrounds, and the aforementioned proposal to turn the Odd Fellows Tract into a part of the forested recreation is one which the general public can all benefit.
Article XIV, Section 5, of the North Carolina Constitution provides the following: It shall be the policy of this State to conserve and protect its lands and waters for the benefit of all its citizenry, and to this end it shall be a proper function of the State of North Carolina and its political subdivisions to acquire and preserve park, recreational, and scenic areas, to control and limit the pollution of our air and water, to control excessive noise, and in every other appropriate way to preserve as a part of the common heritage of this State its forests, wetlands, estuaries, beaches, historical sites, open lands, and places of beauty.