It is obvious that Mayor Weinbrecht does not know or want to know the history of this project.
First off, the State did not mandate this project to be a “regional plant”, only that the State preferred a “regional solution”. The referenced article was factual and complete. Investigated reporting was done using a fair and balanced approach. Rebekah Cowell should be commended for taking the time to interview, research, and report the facts.
While the Army Corps did follow their NEPA process, they failed to start at the beginning – site selection. This project was flawed from the beginning. In secret, Cary identified the New Hill site and condemned the land BEFORE ever involving the New Hill Community. Cary ignored their own engineer consulting firm that identified (3) other higher ranked sites located on Progress Energy land that was previously taken from New Hill residents for utility purposes.
During the NEPA process, Cary’s site selection process was dismissed. We were told that it didn’t matter how the site was selected. Gee, isn’t that interesting. It didn’t matter to Cary but it does matter to the New Hill community! Also, every issue identified by New Hill was dismissed stating that everything bad would be mitigated. OK, so there are bad things about placing a sewage plant in the center of a community, adjacent to their historic district, churches, cemeteries, and numerous residents of color and outside every partner town’s corporate limits, but Cary will make it less bad. How comforting.
The mayor states “the Corps reached its independent decision that the site in the New Hill area of Apex”. Well, that might be technically true but New Hill is actually only in Apex’s Long Range Urban Service Area (LRUSA) meaning that on paper, Apex might expand out to the New Hill area in the next (10) years at the earliest. Today, Apex was no jurisdiction over New Hill, Wake County has jurisdiction.
The mayor goes on to say the site “is the overall best site alternative since it has least impacts”. That statement is so far from the truth. Statistics provided during the NEPA process clearly shows that the New Hill site (Site 14) has far more impacts than any of the (3) alternative sites identified. In fact, the Army Corps stated that any of the (3) alternative sites (2 on Progress Energy land) were equal to or better than Cary’s “preferred site”.
The mayor states “many of whom have long suffered from failed septic tanks and contaminated wells” without providing facts and figures. What does “many” mean? While there are always the potential for water and sewer problems while living in a rural area, we have them fixed ourselves. We don’t need any outside town fixing them. Of the thousands of folks living in New Hill, I am not aware on any family using an outhouse!
The mayor talks about a 200 foot buffer around the sewage plant. He says that “will help ensure our neighbors won’t be negatively impacted by light, odor, traffic, and noise.” Seems to me that if a sewage plant was so great, these “negative impacts” wouldn’t even be an issue that needed mitigation!
The mayor states the project will “go through a review process by the Town of Apex since the site is in Apex’s corporate limits.” Nice try and a half truth. While the condemned land was annexed into Apex’s corporate limit, all of the surrounding land is NOT in Apex’s corporate limit.
While Cary did receive Army Corps “approval to proceed”, there are many issues and steps they need to overcome before any ground is broken.
It is too bad Mayor Weinbrecht didn’t keep his pre-election promise to revisit the site selection process. At that time, he understood the many negative impacts such a plant would cause the New Hill community. What happened? Did he succumb to pressure from Apex and his own town’s staff?
Maybe this article is one sided but so is the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision produced for the Army Coprs of Engineers. These documents were written by the (4) towns consultants. Input from the majority of the New Hill Community was ignored or white washed. As far as articles facts being outdated, give examples. If you browse the New Hill Community Association's website (www.newhillca.org) you will see facts and figures to support all statements and claims made by NHCA.
Last time I looked, our government was suppose to be "for the people and by the people". This project has clearly not done that! How (4) towns can jump outside their jurisdictions and take land from a person for the benefit of these (4) towns without providing the affected community as a whole any benefits is mind bloggling. If this project had a vote, then the results would be 2000 to 5 against the location of this sewage plant. Owning "more land" doesn't give a person more votes.
Thanks Rebekah for covering this David vs. Goliath story...
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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