Pin It
Chatham County Board of Commissioners disagrees with Durham Commission vote on developer survey

Chatham leaders riled up about Jordan Lake decision 

Durham developer's plans would redraw critical watershed

Staff writer Matt Saldaña discusses this issue with Frank Stasio on WUNC's The State of Things

Chatham County elected leaders have condemned Durham County’s recent decision to endorse a private developer’s survey that would re-define Jordan Lake’s protected areas. Neal Hunter, a developer who lives in Chatham County, commissioned the survey, which moved a proposed mega-project known as the “751 Assemblage” almost entirely out of the environmentally protected critical watershed, where it currently stands.

Hunter’s self-interest goes further: He is now a minority-partner in the development company seeking to build the 751 Assemblage—1,300 dwellings and 600,000 square feet of office space on land he owned near Jordan Lake’s shore.

In a Dec. 15 resolution (PDF, 934 KB) sent to the N.C. Division of Water Quality, the Chatham Board of Commissioners requested that, barring an independent survey, Jordan Lake’s boundaries remain unchanged, in order to protect “the public health and welfare of those who utilize Jordan Lake and drink its waters, and in the principles of environmental stewardship.” The Durham County Commissioners rejected an independent survey last month, electing instead to submit Hunter’s survey to DWQ.

“The Chatham Board of Commissioners is alarmed that a survey paid for by a private developer shifting the normal pool boundary of the lake is being requested. We are asking that you reject this survey,” Chairman George Lucier wrote to DWQ. “Any adjustment to the normal pool boundary and the critical watershed area boundary should only be made if the results of an impartial and thorough survey determines if such a shift is justified.”

Lucier sent the letter to Julie Ventaloro, the state’s watershed protection coordinator, the same day Chatham commissioners voted 5-0 to adopt its resolution. He said that the county recently became aware of Hunter’s survey from concerned citizens in Durham and Chatham counties, several of whom cited a Dec. 3 Indy story on the re-drawn Jordan Lake boundaries.

One clause in the commissioners’ resolution highlighted Hunter’s conflict of interest: “Whereas [Hunter’s] survey was designed with the purpose of allowing additional density in the Upper New Hope section of the lake.”

The section where Hunter has proposed the 751 Assemblage project is one of the most polluted portions of the lake, further burdening it. Jordan Lake has been on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Impaired Waters list since 2002 due to “excess nutrients,” such as nitrogen, which make it difficult for aquatic life to thrive. High amounts of nutrients also can require water to be treated with additional chemicals before it can be used for drinking.

“Whatever runoff comes in from that development is going to come down to Chatham County. We’ve seen what happened with Amberly when they did dense development by the lake,” Lucier said in an interview, referring to a controversial residential development in Cary. “If you had seen the aerial photographs of that, you could see that there’s a tremendous amount of sedimentation and erosion. We would like to prevent that sort of thing from happening in the future.”

Lucier declined comment on Durham County’s 3-2 vote Nov. 24 to reject an independent survey of Jordan Lake, electing instead to wait for DWQ’s official ruling on Hunter’s survey.

“The only thing that I know is that it was a mixed vote, and there were arguments against [Hunter’s survey]. Chatham County basically supports the arguments against it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lucier said that protecting Jordan Lake, a drinking water source for Chatham, as well as Cary, Morrisville, Apex and portions of Research Triangle Park, was “not a point of disagreement.” This month, Chatham commissioners passed amendments that strengthened its watershed, subdivision, and soil erosion and sedimentation control ordinances. They also created a new storm water ordinance, enacting stricter environmental protections of its rivers, lakes and streams.

By contrast, Hunter’s survey sought to reduce Jordan Lake’s critical watershed area, which limits development, by effectively re-drawing the shape of Jordan Lake. “What is going on, in [Durham’s] request, is flying in face to our own ordinances,” he said. “We’re willing to walk the talk, in terms of our own ordinances.”

  • Chatham County Board of Commissioners disagrees with Durham Commission vote on developer survey

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Chatham County

More by Matt Saldaña

  • Storied bar He's Not Here is for sale (a remembrance)

    After realizing He's Not Here was neither a band nor a spiritual movement but a bar, the myth didn't disappear. I couldn't find it: The address-less place was like a treehouse in someone's backyard, or more appropriately, a speakeasy.
    • Jan 18, 2012
  • Ted Kennedy: "awesome and inspiring"

    Though an invitation-only affair, Kennedy's funeral in the heart of urban Boston was intended for mass consumption—a fitting contrast for a man who led a privileged life yet fought for the working class and poor.
    • Sep 2, 2009
  • Bleachers and rafters

    I got in my car, drove home, and thought about how lonely, and fulfilling, my job can be.
    • Aug 19, 2009
  • More »

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity

Comments

Selective enforcement of laws is always problematic.

Well, unless you're an attractive woman, a "respected member of the …

by Jeff S on DENR shrugs off accident, punts to General Assembly (Chatham County)

This almost seems like a "culture" thing - "spills happen - oh well, gee wiz, what ya gonna do?"

by Realist1953 on DENR shrugs off accident, punts to General Assembly (Chatham County)

Most Read

Latest videos from the INDY

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation