Written by Liz Adams, Research Associate at the UNC Institute for the Environment
Could the Wake Stone Quarry (Triangle Quarry) and the proposed quarry expansion that borders Umstead State Park ever become a recreational amenity that would benefit the community? How much would the RDU and Wake Stone concept plan cost, and who would pay?
We know some answers on how much it would cost, both financially and in regards to the required environmental permits, from a study that the Town of Cary commissioned in 2013 by CH2MHILL to determine if water could be stored in the Triangle Quarry. It was one of 5 alternative options studied under a joint Cary-Apex-Morrisville Study to expand our public water supply. This option was not selected, as it was too costly and complex compared to withdrawing more water from Jordan Lake.
The cost for this option to fill the existing Wake Stone Quarry pit with water was estimated to be $178 million. We need to dig further to determine what this covers, but it is safe to say, that implementing concept plan by Wake Stone will be difficult and expensive. Wake Stone’s concept plan shows both quarry pits filled with water, the existing quarry pit, and the one on public land that will be leased from RDU Airport Authority.
The following section is quoted from this Cary-Apex-Morrisville Joint Water Supply Basin Planning study:
Option 4: Water Supply from Crabtree Creek with Storage in Existing Triangle Quarry
Raw water would be pumped from Crabtree Creek, stored in Wake Stone Corporation Triangle Quarry (CH2M HILL and Brown and Caldwell,2013, Figure 3), treated at a new WTP located nearby, and distributed through the existing water system.
The quarry has the potential to provide up to 4.6 billion gallons of raw water storage at the projected final excavated volume.
The State of North Carolina has the first right of refusal for the quarry parcel when the mining is complete, so the state would have to agree to relinquish that right to the property.
For this strategy, raw water would be withdrawn under operational guidelines based on thresholds for different withdrawal scenarios that could occur based on available flows in Crabtree Creek.
Based on these preliminary guidelines, an annual average safe yield of 10 mgd from Crabtree Creek is projected. During the summer peak demand months, up to 12 mgd could be provided from the quarry storage.
An environmental document meeting the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements would be necessary for this strategy. There are several key issues which could affect the feasibility of this alternative including:
Is it ethical for RDU Airport Authority and Wake Stone to claim that an recreational amenity would be available to the community after the closure of the expanded Wake Stone Quarry without showing how this plan will be implemented, and at what cost?
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Hear from one of our RDU Forest supporters, Jeff Wald, on why he opposes the proposed quarry and 8' chain link, barbed wire fence that will border Umstead State Park.
"We see this forest as a tremendous opportunity for outdoor recreation for this evergrowing metropolitan area—it's right in the center of it."
The existing Wake Stone Quarry at Harrison Avenue in the Town of Cary mines materials are classified as metavolcanic felsic rocks. The existing hole is 400 feet down, 30 feet below sea level and consists of 140 acres of cleared land that borders I-40 and Umstead State Park.
Felsic rocks contain silica in their name (sic), as they contain greater than 65% silica. The higher the amount of silica, the riskier it is for people to inhale the dust that is generated from mining operations. Exposure to dust that contains silica without adequate protection causes silicosis, which is an incurable lung disease. If you see dust clouds from mining operations, or even if you don’t see them, you may be exposed to harmful levels of silica.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides excellent tools to help communities understand their exposure to harmful air pollution. I examined the online map from the 2014 National Emissions Inventory for our area and couldn’t see any reported emissions of PM2.5 or PM10 from Wake Stone at their RTP location. Even when reported, air emissions are often estimated, rather than measured directly.
There aren’t enough official Air Quality monitoring stations to measure every hazardous or harmful air pollutant in the air across the country as they are very expensive to install and operate. The closest monitor to Umstead State Park is located over 3 miles away at the Triple Oak Station along I-40 near the airport.
The science on the health and environmental effects of PM2.5 is an emerging area of research and scientists are continuing to discover new harmful effects of fine particulate exposure including harmful impacts to every organ in the body.
I have been bicycling and collecting hyper local air quality data using the Plume Flow Sensor for over 6 months. I was concerned about the dust that I had observed at the entrance to the Wake Stone Quarry. I wondered if PM2.5 and PM10 emissions were reaching Umstead State Park, exposing kids who were attending camps, as well as the runners, bicyclists and hikers who use the trails.
Collecting data on PM2.5 concentrations surrounding the existing mine has been an adventure. Riding my bike with the Plume Air Flow monitor has provided me with lots of data. I see it as an opportunity to directly observe and experience winter time inversions caused by cold air aloft that traps pollution at the surface, or rain storms that wash the pollution away. Cycling a regular route down Evans to the new Crabtree Creek Greenway, through Umstead State Park and then back again on the Black Creek Greenway a few times a week for a few months, has helped me to identify multiple sources of pollution and the factors that lead to buildup of the concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air.
November 5, 2019: Written by Natalie Lew to the Cities of Raleigh & Durham and Wake & Durham Counties
A business opportunity including restaurants; small to medium meeting and entertainment venues; and outdoor recreation-education-team building features that creates an airport campus which benefits the airport, residents, travelers, businesses, etc.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information in full. I am part of a volunteer group that has presented an idea to the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (RDAUAA) that has much benefit to the airport, the airport campus, and the region. One that provides long-term financial income to our airport, creates an airport campus that supports local businesses and attracts visitors from afar, preserves the Odd Fellows land, and protects Umstead State Park. This idea is an alternative to the proposed new 400 foot deep rock pit on the Odd Fellows land which only provides short-term income to the airport, will stop the airport campus from becoming an economic benefit to the RDU International Airport and the greater community, and would lead to the destruction of an extremely rare and irreplaceable gem - a large forested natural environment located in the middle of our metropolitan area.
The RDUAA might say that this issue is about a spoiled group of mountain bikers that is trespassing on their land. That is totally wrong. This is about our community and our quality of life. This is about the history of our land. This is about the Boy Scouts who can no longer camp in the area as they have done since the 1950’s. This is about the running clubs, the bird-watching groups, the fisherman, the hikers, the boulderers, and many other groups that use the area. This is about families that bring their children to walk, ride, and socialize on the greenway leading to our state park. This is about our health and the health of our environment. This is about the animals that live in the state park and surrounding areas. This is about the loss of the last and final enclave of forested space next to the most used state park.
This is about the fact that we have a really, really good proposal for a business opportunity other than a rock quarry and this idea benefits so many more people than does this rock quarry. Imagine an airport adjacent to a resort - a resort with a base village like a ski resort. The base village includes restaurants, shopping, entertainment, entertainment venues, conference centers, zip lines, ropes courses, rock climbing wall, pump track, equipment rentals, etc. The base village is the gateway to the forest and its activities. I travel with my regular job and have had many occasions in which the team flies to an airport, stays at the airport hotel for a meeting, and then gets the heck out of there because there is nothing to do. Currently, nobody flies into RDU to hold a meeting at RDU and nobody comes to the airport area for shopping/entertainment. The RDU Forest Village will change that. Companies will want to hold meetings on the RDU airport campus; travelers and locals will want to visit and/or stay on the airport campus to experience the multitude of available activities.
The preservation of the Odd Fellows tract is important in making the airport campus an effective and viable business and tourism destination. A ski village does not exist without its adjacent ski slopes. They have a symbiotic relationship. RDU airport will be stronger and better if it preserves the Odd Fellows tract and works in concert with Umstead State Park and the community that owns it. The trails and activities hosted within these forested lands is what draws people to the base village. The base village supports the visitors. The base village, given its proximity to the airport and the park, facilitates access to a destination that draws visitors and customers from not only the local community, but from the flying community as well. The business and tourism destination benefits to both the airport and the community will be lost without preservation of the Odd Fellows land.
After you have reviewed the pages that follow, please feel free to contact me via phone or email with questions. Let me know if you want to tour the area for an overview of the situation and our proposal. Our group is confident that our proposal will create a benefit to all and will create a unique airport and airport campus, one that is not replicated anywhere in this country, let alone the world. My ask: please consider 1) openly stating you are in favor of preserving the Odd Fellows tract and 2) facilitating the creation of the RDU Forest Village Concept on the RDU Airport campus.
Read the full proposal here.
Learn more about the RDU Forest Village Vision here.
2014, RDU Airport report: “Environmental integrity must be a cornerstone of RDU’s development strategy, and should begin with the adoption of the following: Strengthening RDU’s branding as a good steward of the land; Capitalizing on locational environmental advantages of surplus land parcels such as water and forests; Creating a comprehensive sustainability plan that includes energy efficiency, use, and production, as well as environmentally sensitive storm water management, landscape maintenance practices, air quality, and carbon emissions; and Protecting open spaces within and around developed property.” (http://uli.org/wp-content/uploads/ULI-Documents/Raleigh-Durham-Airport_PanelReport_lores_FINAL.pdf)
The long term lease of recreational land for a granite rock quarry next to Umstead State Park and along the East Coast Greenway undermines the foundation and authority of RDU Airport. Rather than being good stewards and protecting Umstead State Park, Lake Crabtree County Park and the existing mountain bike trails on 286 and the Odd Fellows Tract, the RDU 2040 plan converts these open spaces into industrial and commercial uses.
Industrial uses such as open pit quarry mines are incompatible when sited next to residential and recreational open space and multi-use trails.
If this land was still under the zoning authority of the Town of Cary, this proposed development would require a rezoning that would need to meet the policies of the Town of Cary including the MOVES policy:
Cary’s MOVE policies are designed to respond to transportation challenges and opportunities:
§ Allow mobility choices
Ensure Safety for All Users and Modes (Policy 1)
Here is a proposed rezoning that failed because it didn’t meet the land use policies of the Town of Cary. http://carync.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=4466&MediaPosition=&ID=3310&CssClass=
The reason that the Town of Cary and other local municipalities have requirements for neighborhood meetings with the developers and staff prior to rezoning is to identify concerns and to prevent harm. Staff develops a comprehensive report on each proposed rezoning that helps identify whether the proposal from the developer meets the policies and goals enacted by the town.
A few significant concerns that the RDU Airport Authority seems to have disregarded include the hazards of allowing logging trucks on the Old Reedy Creek Multi Use Trail and the degradation of air quality due to quarry blasting and grinding of granite.
Remember, Silica is not just dust.
“In February 1972, the FAA authorized updating the airport’s 1970 master plan to provide additional information on the new runway configuration. Simultaneously, a public hearing was conducted on rezoning of lands surrounding the airport. The Alternate B runway design required rezoning of approximately 2,000 acres in Wake County and several hundred acres in Durham County to be rezoned from residential to airport district. Some home owners in the area organized in a group known as Airport Involved Residents (AIR) to oppose rezoning. However, this was countered by strong public and media support for the action. Airport rezoning was approved by the Wake County Board of Commissioners in February 1972.” Source: Section II, page 10, 1977 Federal Environmental Impact Statement.
“Newspaper reports indicate that objections of residents in the vicinity of the Airport were not focused on displacement but on airport zoning which opened residential areas to commercial or industrial use.” Editorial “Airport Zoning Changes Help” Raleigh Times, February 21, 1972.
In March 1977, the previously mentioned report on the environmental impact of the proposed airport expansion was released, and in it, the Odd Fellows Tract was specifically mentioned under this section: Environmental Impact Statement Section III: Public Lands The following quote is from Page 19 under the subsection: “Other Public Lands/Historical and Archeological Sites”
“A recreation area under the jurisdiction of the Odd Fellows Club of Raleigh is located adjacent to the proposed project site, south of Umstead State Park and west of Crabtree Creek. The area contains a picnic shelter and a small lake, and is used for monthly club activities. This recreation facility will not be adversely affected by airport expansion.”
The Environmental Impact Statement also refers to the 1962 amendment to the Wake County zoning ordinance. In 1962, the Wake County Board of Commissioners adopted an addition to the county zoning ordinances with the establishment of airport districts.
“These districts were created to protect the airport from urban development encroachment and for protection of persons and property within the airport environment. The Airport District zoning is presently in effect for the runways now in use at Raleigh-Durham Airport, and has been extended partially for the Alternate B configuration. The ordinance prohibits residential uses of the land other than farm residences. Commercial, industrial, recreational and agricultural land uses are permitted within these zones provided there are no places of public assembly such as schools, churches, theaters and stadia. The districts extend 2.8 miles from the end of each runway.”
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March 12, 2019: Memorandum sent to NC Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, NC DEQ
From: Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition
Reference: Mining Permit 92-10 - Modification Dated March 28, 2018 issued to Wake Stone Corporation. Request to reverse permit modification and re-instate Sunset Clause
We appreciate meeting with you on March 5, 2019 to discuss our objections to the above reference permit modification. Our objective was to further explain the basis for our request dated November 14, 2018 to reverse the permit modification to the Reclamation Condition 5.B. The Umstead Coalition letter was within 30 days of The Umstead Coalition’s discovery date (November 6, 2018) that the permit had been changed. There are no on-line records of the permit files.
From our discussion it is our understanding that your office issued the modification based on an e-mail in March 2018 from Wake Stone Corporation indicating a clerical error in the initial May 13 1981 mining permit (and all subsequent permits). Attached to the e-mail from Wake Stone Corporation was a document purportedly issued by the Mining Commission dated April 3, 1981, more than a month before the actual first permit issuance, which describes the permit conditions. DEQ staff may have assumed that the Mining Commission document has precedence and the 1981 permit was in error. However, DEQ acknowledged that an original of that Mining Commission document is not present in the permit file, and not verified.
Wake Stone Corporation did not submit a required permit modification request form prior to your issuing the 2018 modification.
Our first position is that the 1981 permit as written has precedence over the purported Mining Commission document dated over a month prior. The permit donation conditions were the result of negotiations over a period from January 27 to May 13, 1981 and are correctly written in the 1981 permit. The Mining Commission document dated a month before permit issuance, if valid, represents only one point in a long negotiation.
Please consider the following.
Second: Changing the word “sooner” to “later” in Section 5.B. is a SUBSTANTIAL change to the permit. This change eliminates the “Sunset Clause”, the right of the State of North Carolina to exercise its donation option 50 years after mining commenced. This change completely disadvantages William B. Umstead State Park and the State of NC.
Changing the text from “sooner” to “later” renders Section 5.B. meaningless. The plain reading of 5B requires the word “sooner” in order to have any utility/meaning in the permit. Otherwise, why would 5B have been in the permit for 38 years and a reference made to 50 years in the context of all quarryable stone not removed?
Third DEQ failed to follow its own procedures in issuing the modification. There was NO application from Wake Stone Corporation for a Permit Modification submitted for the change from “sooner” to “later.” Furthermore there was no notification to the affected landowners within 1,000 feet (NC Division of Parks and Recreation for William B. Umstead State Park), 2 private landowner as had occurred with other significant permit changes that affected Umstead State Park (e.g., change in the buffers, as evidence by extensive communications between NC Division of Parks and Recreation and DEQ in the permit file).
The 2018 permit modification in Section 5B of “sooner” to “later” was based upon an unverified document that was put into the permit file by Wake Stone Corporation. A Public Records request failed to show any original of this document. There has been no other due diligence by DEQ that the unverified document that Wake Stone added to the permit file was correct. An email referencing an unverified document that Wake Stone Corporation had put to the file should be considered insufficient grounds to make such a significant change to a permit. An unverified document should NOT override the actual first permit signed almost 1 month later. However, even if the document that Wake Stone Corporation added to the file is found to be correct, is should not take precedent over the permits signed by DEQ and Wake Stone Corporation over 37 years – the permits are the operating documents.
Finally, NC State Parks, local governments and the public depended on the 1981 Reclamation Conditions for 37 years before the 2018 DEQ modification. Even if the 1981 permit conditions are in error (which we content were not) the extraordinary length of time upon which these conditions were in effect render such an error inconsequential. The public has expected since the first permit was signed in May of 1981 that the State of NC has the option to exercise that could eliminate the large volume of heavy truck traffic, noise and dust at our most popular entrance to William B. Umstead State Park.
We strongly urge that Clause 5B in the Mining Permit 92-10 be corrected to the words used in the May 13, 1981 permit with the “sooner” word.
Download a PDF of the Umstead Coalition's letter to request return of Sunset Clause here.
November 14, 2018: Memorandum sent to Secretary Michael A Regan, Secretary North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
Re: Mining Permit 92‐10 ‐ Modification Dated March 28, 2018. Request to reverse permit modification made without affected agency and public notification
Dear Secretary Regan:
Upon Public Records examination of the Permit files for Mining Permit 92‐10 on November 6, 2018, we discovered an unexpected and disturbing Permit Modification Permit 92‐10 that was made by an internal “administrative text change.” The change would result in a substantial impact to adjacent William B. Umstead State Park and nearby residences and business. And, therefore require public notice prior to any consideration. No such notification occurred.
Per this letter, we formally request that the recent “text” modification made on Permit 92‐10 be reversed.
And the permit issued on December 2017 stand.
We appreciate your desire for OPENNESS and TRANSPARENCY in public actions. It is likely you were not aware of a recent “text” change made by DEQ staff that would result in a major expansion of a quarry without affected agency and public notification.
The most recent Permit Modification dated March 28, 2018 was made internally by staff within the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, NC DEQ per a request by the quarry owner. NO public notice was made. NO notification of affected adjacent land owners occurred. NO notification to NC State Parks occurred. NO electronic tracking of this permit change is available.
1. The change that was made by DEQ staff to the December 2017 permit was substantial, not a clerical correction, and results in detrimental effects to William B. Umstead State Park, private residences, and private businesses, negate a condition essential to the issuance of a permit in 1981 and an effectively allow an indefinite expansion of quarry operations .
2. No such substantial “text” change should have been considered without public notice to the affected adjacent land owners and landowners within 1000 ft of the permit boundary.
3. Because the original permit application in 1980 was denied based upon impacts to William B. Umstead State Park, donation conditions under the Reclamation Conditions were negotiated with NC State Parks.
The approved May 13 1981 permit donation conditions are correct.
4. All the previous approved and signed permits (May 13, 1981; April 15, 1986; April 1, 1991; February 5, 1992; November 24, 2010; March 30 2011; and December 1, 2017) have the CORRECT wording under Reclamation Condition 5.B:
5.B. If all quarryable stone is not removed, the right of the State to acquire the quarry site shall accrue at the end of 50 years from the date quarrying commences or 10 years after quarrying operations have ceased without having been resumed, whichever is sooner, and notices shall be exchanged at that time in the same manner and with the same time limitations as set forth in paragraph A above.
The recent “Administrative text change” replaced “sooner” with “later” (Permit modification dated March 28, 2018). This change to the Approved Reclamation Conditions, Section 5 “Donation to State” is inconsistent with historical records and the Mining Commission’s intent to allow the State to acquire the quarry site at the end of 50 years from the date quarrying commences. The recent text change substitutes “later” for “sooner” in the original 1981 permit section concerning terms and conditions for the donation, page 13. Further note that same text edit was requested by the quarry March 7 of 2011 with no public notice and denied as evident March 30, 2011 permit not having been so modified.
It is our contention that the Mining Commission and the Department in 1981 intended that the State have the right to accept the donation at the end of 50 years under all circumstances. This right was a fundamental condition for Wake Stone Corporation to mine property bordering William B. Umstead State Park. Substituting “later” for “sooner” per the recent permit modification voids the State’s right to do so.
In fact such a text change renders any reference to 50 years meaningless extra words. Furthermore, such a substitution allows Wake Stone 10 years to notify the State that condition A is met. There is no reason for Condition B to have been written if the commission’s/Department’s intent was to use “later” instead of “sooner”. The significance and necessity of the use of “sooner” in Condition B is self‐evident.
We request that NC DEQ REVERSE permit 92‐10 modification dated March 28, 2018 and return the
Condition 5.B text to the 1981 permit wording which remained correct through the December 2017 Permit.
We would be available to discuss this request.
Download a PDF of the email here.