Download a PDF of NC Division of Parks and Recreation's letter to NC DEQ/Division of Energy, Mineral & Land Resources
February 12, 2021
Brian Wrenn, Director NC DEQ/Division of Energy, Mineral & Land Resources Via email: Brian.firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Expand Wake Stone Triangle Quarry, Odd Fellows Tract adjacent to William B. Umstead State Park, Raleigh, Wake County, GS 20-0841
Dear Mr. Wrenn:
After further evaluation of the permit modification, the Division of Parks and Recreation (DPR) requests that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) deny the permit modification based on its significant negative impacts on Umstead State Park and other publicly owned greenways adjacent to the park, as allowed by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 74-51(d)(5) (allowing denial of a permit upon finding “[t]hat the operation will have a significantly adverse effect on the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest or recreation area”). This conclusion is consistent with the 1980 denial of the mining permit application by the then Department of Natural Resources and Community Development (NRCD) due to the proposed combined effects to the park of noise, sedimentation, dust, traffic, and blasting vibrations associated with the then-proposed quarry.
Our May 8, 2020 letter on this topic details much of our rationale for requesting denial of the permit modification. The issues are summarized below and include noise, sedimentation and water quality, dust and air quality, traffic, habitat loss, blasting vibrations, and park expansion. DPR does not believe mitigation efforts could eliminate these concerns. In addition to the significant negative effects discussed in that letter and below, the delayed closure of the existing quarry and potential transfer of the property to the park would represent a significant economic cost to DPR. Renewing the permit and preventing transfer denies DPR and the State this valuable property in the middle of a rapidly growing metropolitan area.
DPR asks that DEQ also consider the many changes since the initial permit approval almost 40 years ago, including increased demand for outdoor recreation, construction of additional greenways adjacent to the park, and loss of habitat through increased urbanization in the vicinity of the park. DPR believes denial of the permit will greatly benefit Umstead Park and protect the natural resources of the State and the citizens who gain enjoyment from these resources.
As visitors come to a state park, there is an expectation of tranquility and quiet not afforded them where they live, even at a more urban park like Umstead Park. Additional noise from the proposed quarry expansion site will degrade this tranquility to a level that would harm park visitors’ experiences.
Increased sedimentation from the proposed quarry will harm the downstream water quality of Crabtree Creek in the park. Sand and finer grained sediments, including silts and clays, degrade stream habitats, and can reduce sunlight and harm aquatic plant and animal species. The extent of sedimentation in a stream is one of the significant indicators of diversity of macroinvertebrates which are an indicator of stream health.
Dust and fine particles degrade air quality, potentially damaging public health. DPR is concerned that the cumulative impacts on air quality from the new quarry have not been adequately assessed. Deforestation and the heavy machinery that would be used in the proposed quarry expansion will negatively impact air quality in the region. As the park and connecting greenways have become more popular there is a concern that blasting dust and other airborne pollutants from traffic and mining operations will harm the health of many park users.
Umstead Park shares an entrance with the current Wake Stone quarry off the Harrison Avenue access to the park. This location is a primary entrance location for the park and would also continue to serve as the primary location of trucks entering and leaving the quarry. Over the years there have been several challenges associated with the shared access point. Truck traffic is constant when the quarry is operating and has resulted in conflicts with visitors, especially those biking into the park. Trucks leaving the quarry often cross the center line due to the tight turning radius, posing a safety issue. In addition, truck traffic is likely to increase at this already crowded intersection, exacerbating safety issues, as timber is removed from the site, the bridge is built, and associated quarry activities at the new site ramp up.
In addition to the noise impacts from blasting previously discussed, blasting vibrations could also negatively affect both park visitors and facilities. Significant vibrations could mar the very peace and quiet that visitors come to Umstead Park to experience, and each year many thousands of people enjoy the Reedy Creek Multi-Use Trail adjacent to the proposed site. Vibrations could also damage buildings including park staff residences. These problems will have an adverse impact on the park.
Loss of Wildlife Corridors
Habitat loss and fragmentation is the largest contributor to biodiversity loss on the planet. The proposed permit modification would permanently fragment healthy wildlife habitat directly on the park’s border.
Because population growth in the Triangle region and visitation to Umstead State Park are rapidly increasing, the park’s master plan calls for expansion of the park through land acquisition. Approval of the permit modification will cause a significant delay, by 30 years or more, in the potential transfer of the existing quarry property to the park, which would limit the park’s ability to meet increased public demand in the meantime.
In conclusion, approval of a permit to expand the quarry will degrade Umstead State Park and represent a significant lost opportunity for the park, our Division, and the natural resources of our State. The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation requests that Department of Environmental Quality deny the modification.
DPR appreciates the opportunity to provide these comments on the proposed permit modification. Thank you for your consideration.
Dwayne Patterson, Director North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation
cc: Reid Wilson, Secretary, NCDNCR Brian Strong, Deputy Director of Planning and Natural Resources, DPR John Nicholson, Chief Deputy Secretary, DEQ Sheila Holman, Assistant Secretary for Environment, DEQ
Download a PDF of the letter>>
Deny Proposed New Quarry Pit, Restore Undisturbed Buffers and Sunset Clause
WHEREAS, On August 22, 1980. DEQ (then NRCD) denied an Application for a new Mining Permit based upon “the proposed quarry operation would have an adverse effect upon the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest, or recreational area. The combined effects of noise, sedimentation, dust, traffic and blasting vibration associated with the proposed quarry operation would produce primary impacts on William B. Umstead State Park in the form of noise intrusion and deterioration of visual resources."; and
WHEREAS, the industry-friendly Mining Commission overruled DEQ’s Decision (January 27 and April 3, 1981) , ordering the permit be issued with protections for William B Umstead State Park including “Permanent” buffers; and
WHEREAS, between January 27, 1981 and May 13, 1981, DEQ (NC Divisions of Land Resources and Parks and Recreation) worked hard either increase protections for William B.
Umstead State Park or, if not obtained, planned to appeal the Mining Commission’s overruling of DEQ’s decision to the Courts; and
WHEREAS, on May 13, 1981 after State Agencies worked hard to add permanent, undisturbed buffer and a 50 year Sunset Clause conditions into the Permit, the first Mining Permit 92-10 (Triangle Quarry) was issued by DEQ; and
WHEREAS, the original Mining Permit was accepted without objection by Wake Stone, as were its Renewals and Modifications issued on May 13, 1981; April 15, 1986; April 1, 1991; February 5, 1992; October 11, 1996; April 20, 2001; November 24, 2010; March 20, 2011 and December 1, 2017 all contained a 50-year Sunset Clause in the “Reclamation Conditions”: “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.”; and
WHEREAS, the 50-year Sunset Clause served as a basis for the State Park planning for future Park land acquisition for the purposes of conservation and recreation, key missions of the NC Parks system; and
WHEREAS, 92-10 Mining permits through 2017 have all measured the stream buffer from top of Crabtree Creek bank with undisturbed, forested buffers; and
WHEREAS, all of the nine Mining Permits issued during the almost 37 years from May 13, 1981 to December 1, 2017 were accepted by the private mining company without objection; and
WHEREAS, the buffers along the western quarry boundary along Crabtree Creek proved insufficient and in 1992 the quarry operations blasting caused a massive streambank failure and filled in 90 percent of Crabtree Creek. The streambank remains devoid of sufficient vegetation through today; and
WHEREAS, on March 28, 2018 a permit Modification was issued to reduce the buffer widths and expand the quarry area to be disturbed by shifting the protected buffers from top of bank to center of the stream;
WHEREAS, William B. Umstead State Park visitors routinely observe sediment-laden discharge from the existing quarry operations into the Park’s forest and directly into Crabtree Creek; and
WHEREAS, since 1982, there have been numerous complaints about dust, noise, water quality, dead trees, truck conflicts from NC Division of Parks and Recreation staff and the public. Many ignored. The adverse impacts continue.
WHEREAS, from 1982 to the present, the current quarry operation has repeatedly violated the protective buffers by unauthorized deforestation, massive streambank failure along Crabtree Creek, diversion of sediment-laden waters into William B. Umstead State Park, changing water hydrology within William B. Umstead State Park, and killing of Park trees.
WHEREAS, the March 28, 2018 Permit changes made at the request of the private mining company including removal of the Sunset Clause by changing “sooner” to “later”, which completes the removal or reduction of all the hard won protections that Wake Stone agreed to with the 1981 and subsequent permits; and
WHEREAS, the March 28, 2018 Permit changes substantially and dramatically reduced the protective buffer widths by moving the buffers from the top-of-bank to the centerline of Crabtree Creek. The same Permit Modification removed the protective language within the permit narrative, instead shifting to the site plan supplied by the private company; and
WHEREAS, the affected State Agency of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation was not informed or consulted of the requested changes that removed the Park protections of the Sunset Clause and substantially decreased the protective buffers in the March 28, 2018 Permit Modifications; and
WHEREAS, the Permit Modifications on March 28, 2018 removed almost all the hard-fought protections for William B. Umstead State Park; and
WHEREAS, on April 7, 2020, the private mining company submitted a Mining Permit Modification Application to increase the footprint of the existing quarry site by further reducing the protective buffers by again decreasing their width and converted the buffers to “unexcavated” buffers (which allow deforestation, fencing, pit perimeter roads, stockpiling, crushers, conveyor systems, etc. – everything just short of excavating a mining pit); and
WHEREAS, the proposed Permit Modifications submitted on April 7, 2020 proposes to expand the current pit perimeter and increase the depth of the current mine an additional 150 feet to a total depth of -170MSL (170 feet below sea level); and
WHEREAS, on April 7, 2020, the private mining company submitted a Mining Permit Modification Application to “expand” the quarry operations with a new rock mine on the other side of Crabtree Creek on a 105 acres tract knows as the Odd Fellows Tract; and
WHEREAS, the proposed Permit Modifications submitted on April 7, 2020 proposes a new massive 60ft wide (4-lane) bridge over Crabtree Creek just upstream of William B. Umstead State Park to carry many noisy, dusty trucks from the proposed new pit to the processing area of the existing quarry operations; and
WHEREAS, the proposed Permit Modifications only includes twenty (25) foot wide undisturbed buffers along William B. Umstead State Park and the minimal Neuse Buffers along the steep slopes of Crabtree Creek. The top of pit would be only 100 feet from William B. Umstead State Park and Crabtree Creek. The pit perimeter road, sediment erosion control, grading would occur as close as 25 feet of Umstead State Park - the public would not consider such a narrow slice as any meaningful “buffer”; and
WHEREAS, the Mining Permit Modification Application is incomplete and asks the Agency reviewers to ignore an adjacent 17.2 acre “Future Reserves” area, which elsewhere is included in the submitted Reclamation Plan, the private companies web site and marketing information, and other figures in the Application. Furthermore, the private company includes this area within the requested permit “expansion” boundary – an obvious attempt to avoid the required agency review and public comments; and
WHEREAS, the Odd Fellows tract is public property with vested, deeded ownership of the Cities of Raleigh and Durham and Counties of Wake and Durham, managed by the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority; and
WHEREAS, the Odd Fellows tract is bounded by William B. Umstead State Park, Crabtree Creek, the Old Reedy Creek Road Recreational corridor and I-40; and
WHEREAS, the Old Reedy Creek Road recreational corridor is heavily used by runners, walkers, bikers, families, and nature lovers; and
WHEREAS, the Old Reedy Creek Road recreational corridor is a portion of Carolina Connection Bikeway, East Coast Greenway, and extremely popular gateway between Cary’s Black Creek Greenway Trail (which connects to the American Tobacco Trail), Wake County’s Lake Crabtree County Park, and Cary’s Black Creek Greenway trail head parking lot connection to William B. Umstead State Park; and
WHEREAS, all of the drainage area from the Odd Fellows Tract flows into William B. Umstead State P ark directly or via Crabtree Creek; and
WHEREAS, on May 8, 2020, The, NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources- NC Division of Parks and Recreation (NCR DPR) submitted a letter to the NC Department of Environmental Quality -NC Division of Energy, Minerals, and Land Resources (DEQ-DEMLR) listing significant concerns regarding the proposed Mining Permit Application including: noise, sedimentation and water quality, dust and air quality, traffic, habitat loss, blasting vibrations, and loss of park expansion; and
WHEREAS, the Mission and Purpose of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation is Conservation, Recreation, and Education; and
WHEREAS: the Odd Fellows Track is identified as “critical acres” in the Land Protection Plan of William B. Umstead State Park; and
WHEREAS, on June and July, 2020 DEQ-DEMLR held two Virtual Public Hearing and received approximately 2,000 public comments opposing the substantial reductions in Park protection on the current quarry site and the proposed new quarry site on the other side of Crabtree Creek on the Odd Fellows Tract; and
WHEREAS, the public comments indicated a massive outcry regarding the damaging issues with the current quarry operations including: noise, conflict with the 500 plus quarry trucks/day competing with Park visitors at our Park entrance, dust, air quality issues, water quality issues, loss of protective buffers, buffer violations and the current flooding of park lands resulting in the killing of Park trees; and
WHEREAS, a new rock mine pit on the Odd Fellows tract would start a bad precedent in North Carolina allowing a private rock mine on public property in NC and this one adjacent to William B. Umstead State Park; and
WHEREAS, a new rock mine pit on the Odd Fellows tract would only leave a narrow width of the Neuse River buffers along the steep slopes of Crabtree Creek just upstream of William B. Umstead State Park; and much of those buffers are proposed to be taken up with a fence, deforestation, bridge, sediment control structures; and
WHEREAS, the proposed narrow riparian buffers on both sides of Crabtree Creek would leave an artificially narrow “aqueduct” and elevated Crabtree Creek above two quarry pits, each deeper than 400 feet. In exactly the same area Wake Stone already blew out a much larger buffer in 1992, destroying all natural vegetation in the buffer and blocking 90% of the stream, and
WHEREAS, there is no independent engineering analysis ensuring the future integrity of Crabtree Creek with the proposed deep pits on both sides of Crabtree Creek and minimal stream buffers; and
WHEREAS, a new rock mine pit on the Odd Fellows tract would sever the last remaining habitat corridor connecting Jordan Lake to the east through William B. Umstead State Park; and
WHEREAS, a new rock mine pit on the Odd Fellows tract would eliminate a large forested recharge area for Crabtree Creek and decrease base flow; and
WHEREAS, the Umstead Coalition’s mission includes “preserving the natural integrity of William B. Umstead State Park”; and
WHEREAS, the Sierra Club advocates for environmental protection; and was opposed to the 1980 request, and was assured by the promised protections of the original permit that have now been violated or removed, and
WHEREAS, The existing Quarry has already had significant adverse effects on William B. Umstead State Park, and the proposed expansion will significantly reduce the protections on both the existing and expanded pits, it is reasonable to conclude the additional significantly adverse effects will grow due to the significantly fewer protections,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Umstead Coalition and Sierra Club Capital
Group request DEQ-DEMLR DENY the proposed Mining Permit for a new mine on the Odd
Fellows Site because “the proposed new quarry operations would have an significant adverse effect upon the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest, or recreational area” including
William B. Umstead State Park and it’s connected recreational corridors (per G.S. Chapter 74- Article 7, 74-51(d) of the 1971 Mining Act); and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the The Umstead Coalition and Sierra Club Capital Group request DEQ-DEMLR reinstate the 2010 Mining Permit conditions on the existing quarry operations to restore the committed undisturbed buffers, measured from top of bank, along Crabtree Creek and William B. Umstead State Park; and
Group request that DEQ-DEMLR reinstate the 50-year sunset clause with “sooner” in the Reclamation Conditions of the Mining Permit 92-10.
Signed: February 7, 2021 Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair The Umstead Coalition
Signed: February 7, 2021 Hwa Huang, Chair Capital Group, Sierra Club
Download a PDF of the Resolution>>
Join the Umstead Coalition and Senator Wiley Nickel for an informational Town Hall on the proposed RDU Quarry on Wednesday, February 10th, at 6pm.
6pm-6:30pm: Start & presentation by Dr. Jean Spooner, The Umstead Coalition
6:30-6:40pm: Senator Wiley Nickel speaks
In July 2020, DEQ denied the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority’s (RDUAA’s) request for a Neuse Buffer permit for a new, unneeded fence. Now RDUAA is trying again to build their unnecessary fence! Please take action to prevent it (see below for link to send your email).
Tragically, RDUAA recently resubmitted their request to the NC Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to cross streams and wetlands with a chain-linked, barbed-wire fence, including 30ft of deforested swath along the border of William B. Umstead State Park and the crossings of Haley’s Branch. They still plan a patrol road along the fence. Insultingly, RDUAA still proposes to cut-off access to the popular Old Reedy Creek Multi-use Trail within Umstead State Park (and the East Coast Greenway and US1 Bike Route) by building this fence across the trail! DEQ denied the first time, DEQ should deny again.
Please use the link below to write an email asking DEQ to uphold denial of RDU Airport's fence proposal in order to protect not only the Umstead State Park, but also the Neuse River Buffer's streams and wetlands. Ask them to withdraw this request; it's an environmental tragedy. We’ve made an easy way to write one email and have it sent to RDUAA and local elected officials.
Submit your comments now>>
We are disappointed at the Appeals Court decision released December 15, 2020, upholding the lower court’s ruling that RDUAA was allowed to enter into a mining lease with Wake Stone Corporation, for the forested Oddfellows Tract. We are evaluating our appeal before the State Supreme Court.
We disagree; we think that the RDUAA exceeded their authority. We believe RDUAA should have sought concurrence from their four local government owners prior to selling property for a quarry unrelated to airport operations, destroying dwindling old growth forests on public lands, creating a perpetual public liability for the 400’+ deep pit once the resources have been exhausted, and more.
This ruling in no way affects other efforts to preserve the site for recreation that has been on NC Park’s acquisition plan for years, based on Wake Stone’s promise to cease all mining by 2031. Wake Stone agreed to this provision to overcome denial of their original permit for the quarry on land they own on the other side of Crabtree Creek; however, they recently convinced DEQ staff to renege on this 37 year commitment to change one word in the Sunset Clause rendering it useless. We content that was an invalid permit change for the existing quarry on the other side of Crabtree Creek.
In a key part of the December 15, 2020 Appeals Court ruling, the Appeals Court ruled in our favor, confirmed that the adjacent residents have standing, and would be harmed by the proposed new quarry pit. This in itself is grounds for the NC Department of Quality (DEQ) to deny the Mining Permit.
Wake Stone has so far not obtained approval for their mining permit (we believe it should be denied), RDUAA was denied an application to install over 8 miles of high security fencing, and The Umstead Coalition is appealing DEQ’s Neuse Buffer permit to build a bridge across Crabtree Creek wide enough for a 5 lane road. YES, 66 feet wide bridge across Crabtree Creek as wide as I-40 just upstream of William B. Umstead State Park! We expect our appeal to be heard in January.
Approximately 2,000 public comments have been received by DEQ opposing the Mining Permit. Strong evidence has been presented that the proposed new quarry would harm William B. Umstead State Park, the Old Reedy Creek Recreational corridor, private homes, wildlife habitat, water quality and air quality. All solid grounds for permit DENIAL.
Unbelievably, RDUAA has reapplied for their fence Neuse River Buffer permit! And again proposed to sever the popular Reedy Creek Multi-use in William B. Umstead!! The Umstead Coalition has recommended denial due failure to justify the impacts to the streams and wetlands.
Thanks to all who are continuing to let DEQ and your local officials know that the public is OPPOSED to the proposed new mining pit on the Odd Fellows Tract. The good fight continues.
The Umstead Coalition’s annual membership drive has begun! If you’re already a member, now is the perfect time to renew. If you’re not currently a member, please consider joining us.
Last year, membership dollars helped The Umstead Coalition to install solar panels at the Visitors’ Center, plant several new gardens, fund environmental education and Ranger programs, and continue our fight against attempts to expand the Wake Stone quarry. Your membership dues will help us continue our efforts to preserve the natural integrity of William B. Umstead State Park.
Membership (Individual or Household): $15.00
To renew by mail, please send your check, payable to The Umstead Coalition, to the address below. Please include your return address with your check.
The Umstead Coalition
P.O. Box 10654
Raleigh, NC 27605
The Umstead Coalition
P.O. Box 10654
Raleigh, NC 27605
100% of your donations go directly to help William B. Umstead State Park and are tax deductible. Thank you for supporting William B. Umstead State Park!
Join or renew renew your membership now.
We’re very excited to announce we now have an online store!
Start your holiday shopping with us and know that 100% of all proceeds go to support Umstead State Park. You can find stocking stuffers and holiday gifts including 2021 calendar, t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, magnets and more.
Tonight at 6pm there's an FAA community outreach meeting to learn about flight take-off and landing changes at RDU. We encourage you to express your desire to PROTECT Umstead State Park - the more the FAA hears from citizens, and notices folks are "paying attention" the more likely we are for the public voices to be heard.
We also encourage you take this opportunity and request RDU to reactivate the Aircraft Noise Abatement Committee to help voice our community concerns about aircraft noise around Umstead State Park.
Register for the meeting here.
The Umstead Coalition believes this is the ultimate hypocrisy: RDUAA opposes Morrisville’s land use while imposing harmful and incompatible RDU Quarry onto Morrisville citizens.
The News & Observer reports:
Morrisville’s population has more than doubled since 2009, even though residential development has been prohibited in a large chunk of the town closest to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Now the town is considering allowing developers to build apartments and condos in much of what it calls the Airport Overlay District, and that has raised objections from RDU. Airport officials worry that allowing people to live too close to the runways will set up future conflicts, and perhaps even lawsuits, over noise.
The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, the airport’s governing board, sent a letter to the town council last week expressing its “strong opposition” to changing the town’s land-use plan to allow residential development in the airport district.
Read the full article on News & Observer.
Interested in the oral arguments regarding the Umstead Coalition's lawsuit against RDU Quarry? Check out the video below.
Of special interest is the description of how the public was excluded during the 16-18 months prior to approval of RDU Quarry, and the text messages exchanged between RDU Authority's vice chair and Wake Stone. This is discussed in the first 20 minutes of the video.
The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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