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.
DEQ-Mining sent request to Wake Stone Corporation and asked for long list of "Additional Information" indicating an incomplete application and insufficient information regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed quarry pit.
The DEQ letter did not address all the issues raised in the Public Hearing and the more than 1,800 Public Comments opposed to the new quarry pit, but it did reveal serious issues with the application and the submitted site plans and Erosion and Sediment Control Plans.
Read the full letter from DEQ.
DEQ DENIES FENCE BUFFER PERMIT! The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Division of Water Resources (Division) has denied a buffer authorization request by the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (RDUAA) for a proposed enhanced security perimeter fence. A buffer authorization would allow for impacts within a North Carolina protected riparian buffer. The denial includes the following:
"Please be aware that you have no authorization under Title 15A NCAC 02B .0233 (now 15A NCAC 02B .0714), the Neuse River Buffer Rules for this activity and any work done within the waters of the state or regulated Riparian Buffers may be a violation of the North Carolina General Statues and Administrative Code."
As the recent RDU AID task force report suggested, Umstead State Park is a beloved recreational asset of the region. We're hopeful RDU AA will be more sensitive to their neighboring park in future initiatives.
Read DEQ's denial letter here and the press release here.
Written by Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch
Two public hearings, six-plus hours and hundreds of people: The controversy over a proposed the quarry on 225 acres of prime wildlife habitat next to Umstead State Park continued this morning as concerned citizens spoke about the effects of the project on a treasured property, as well as on park-goers and neighbors.
Most of the 200 individuals who spoke at the virtual public hearings hosted by the NC Department of Environmental Quality opposed the Wake Stone proposal for an amended mining permit, citing blasting noise, air pollution, destruction of wildlife habitat and harm to water resources, including Crabtree Creek.
Holly Neal worked for two years as a seasonal office administrator at the park’s visitor center. She told DEQ that sediment runoff from Wake Stone’s nearby existing mine already flows into the park, streams and eventually Crabtree Creek. “I’ve seen this myself,” Neal said. “Even with no rain, the stream was very cloudy white.”
David Humphrey, an engineer, said there is “a very strong potential for Crabtree Creek water to discharge into groundwater as a result of quarry dewatering and thereby result in violations of groundwater standards.”
Upstream runoff from the Ward Transformer Superfund site has already contaminated Crabtree Creek with cancer-causing PCBs.
Liz Adams, a research associate at the UNC Institute for the Environment in the field of air quality, monitors levels of PM 2.5 on her bike rides around the park. PM 2.5 is short for particulate matter that is 2.5 microns in size, less than the width of a human hair. Particulate matter this small can burrow deep into the lungs and cause or worsen respiratory and heart disease.
This illustration of the proposed Wake Stone mine expansion shows Interstate 40 to the south and Old Reedy Creek Road to the west. Old Reedy Creek Road leads to Umstead State Park, and is a main entrance off the greenway system. A popular destination for scouting trips, Foxcroft Lake, to the northeast, would span both the mining boundary and the park. (Map: DEQ)
Adams said that she mounted a Plume Flow sensor on her bike to track PM 2.5 levels for one year. On some days, she said, the concentration at the existing quarry entrance of 200 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA has determined that concentration is unhealthy — or Code Red — and that everyone exposed to that level in the air could suffer health effects. At a level of 201 to 300 micrograms per cubic meter, the air is considered very unhealthy by the EPA.
The land in question, known as the Oddfellows Tract, is technically owned by Wake and Durham counties and Raleigh and Durham, but the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority manages it. Last year the Airport Authority board leased the tract to Wake Stone for $2 million a move that opponents are challenging in court.
At the time, the Airport Authority board reasoned that RDU needed the money for its expansion plans. However, last month the board significantly scaled back those plans, cut its budget by nearly half and deferred major capital projects because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Raleigh City Councilman David Cox told DEQ that the Airport Authority “didn’t get Raleigh’s permission to lease the tract. We haven’t abdicated our authority or our jurisdiction.”
Former Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman also opposed the project because of its potential harm to the park’s trail users.
“The towns of Morrisville and Cary has invested tens of millions of dollars in greenway systems and facilities, including Black Creek, Hatcher Creek and Crabtree Creek trails,” Stohlman said. “All these trails lead directly to Umstead State Park and the Old Reedy Creek Road area, and the thousands of regular trail users will be adversely impacted by the increased noise, dust and truck traffic.”
Supporters included State Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat who lives in Knightdale, where Wake Stone operates another quarry; Knightdale Mayor James Roberson and Knightdale Town Manager Bill Summers.
The company donated a $2.5 million park adjacent to the quarry, Jackson said. However, it is common for companies to give money to public projects to help deflect opposition. Wake Stone has also promised to restore some land around the Oddfellows Tract for future trails after the quarry rock is exhausted.
Jackson received a total of $7,500 in campaign contributions from three top Wake Stone officials — Sam Bratton, Theodore Bratton and Tom Oxholm — last October, according to the State Board of Elections.
In 2018 Jackson received $750 from Wake Stone. And in 2017, Wake Stone contributed $4,000 to Jackson’s campaign.
They said they have received no complaints about Wake Stone’s operations in Knightdale. “They’ve been good partner and neighbor and a key stakeholder in our community,” Roberson said.
Wake Stone received a mining permit in 1981 to operate on nearby land off Harrison Avenue and I-40. The company, which runs several quarries in central North Carolina, claims that its current proposal, a 300-foot deep mine, is merely an expansion.
And since the project is an expansion, Wake Stone believes it should be subject to the original mining permit from 1981. The permit contains a “sunset clause” whose original language required the company to offer the land to the state after mining operations ceased or 50 years, whichever is sooner.
If held to the original wording, Wake Stone would have no interest in the current mining land — or the Oddfellows Tract for the expansion — after 2031.
But in 2011 and again in March 2018, when Wake Stone was working on its expansion proposal, the company asked DEQ to change the permit to say “later,” rather than “sooner.” The company said the wording was a typographical error and should align with the original language in a Mining Commission document. That document does say “later.”
The Mining Commission has not met since 2015. However, a bill in the legislature today would consider the governor’s appointment of Sam Bratton of Wake Stone to the commission.
In response to Wake Stone’s request, DEQ changed the permit wording, but did not hold a public hearing or notify local city or county governments. DEQ had deemed that the change was not substantial, even though the effect was to allow mining to proceed for an indefinite period of time.
Continue reading on NC Policy Watch
The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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