The deal to prevent Cary and Apex from annexing parts of Chatham County without approval from the Chatham County Board of County Commissioners is sailing through the General Assembly.
Commission Chairman Brian Bock announced the agreement Feb. 21 when the commissioners approved the Western Wake Partners’ plan to run 8.1-miles of wastewater treatment pipe underground through the county from the unincorporated Wake County town of New Hill to the Cape Fear River.
The partners, composed of Apex, Cary, Morrisville and RTP South, offered to take involuntary annexation off he table and to help push the legislation through this session in exchange for Chatham commissioners approving plan. Chatham commissioners voted 3-2 to allow the pipeline and also received $500,000 to spruce up a youth center and the option to tap-in to the pipeline in the future as needed.
Devon Mitchell, who held several people hostage at the Wachovia Bank in Cary last Thursday, did not have a gun, a Cary Police Department investigation has revealed.
Mitchell told hostage negotiators and the hostages that he had a gun. Mitchell was shot and killed by law enforcement Thursday evening after he exited the bank with a hostage.
Last Friday, the Indy called the Wake County Sheriff's Department, which reported it had not issued Mitchell a gun permit; nor was there one registered in his name. However, at the time, Cary police had not released the results of its investigation as to whether Mitchell had a gun at the bank.
Here's the press release from the Town of Cary:
At a news conference today, the Town of Cary Police Department announced this afternoon that the ongoing investigations into the hostage situation at Wachovia Bank on February 10 have revealed that Devon Mitchell, 19, of Pony Club Circle in Cary was not armed when he entered the branch located at 10050 Green Level Church Road just before 3 p.m. and held several people against their will for three hours.
“Despite what the 911 call reported, despite what he said to the hostages, despite what he told our hostage negotiator, despite what we all thought we saw when he came out of the bank with something pointed at one of the hostages’ head, we know now that there was no gun,” said Town of Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore.
Mitchell died at the scene from shots fired by four Town of Cary police officers and one Wake County Sheriff’s Office deputy when he exited the bank three hours after the start of the incident, pointing what appeared to be a handgun at one of the hostages. After days of intense searching and investigation, police concluded Saturday evening that Mitchell did not have a weapon.
“This information does not change that our officers did exactly what they were trained to do and what they were expected to do. And I am confident that the investigations into the incident will bear this out,” said Bazemore. “Why Devon set all this in motion, why he wanted us all to believe that he had a weapon and was prepared to kill with it are questions we will never have the answers to. But it’s clear that that’s what Devon wanted.”
(This story was updated Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m.)
MONCURE—More than two dozen people spoke before the Chatham Board of County Commissioners Monday night at a public hearing a plan to run an 8.1-mile underground pipeline from Western Wake County through Southeastern Chatham County.
Western Wake Partners—the towns of Apex, Cary, Morrisville and Research Triangle Park-South—are constructing a $327 million wastewater treatment plant in unincorporated New Hill, but they need to build the pipeline to funnel treated wastewater to the Cape Fear River. About a dozen landowners would need to give up 40-foot-wide easements to bury the pipes, which are 5 feet in diameter.
Chatham County Commission Chairman Brian Bock says the board will vote on the pipeline at its next meeting, Feb. 21.
Chatham Commissioner Sally Kost says she plan to vote against the pipeline unless the only way "we were able to develop a list of concession from the partners that benefited Chatham, but as it's currently proposed I just don’t see what's in it for Chatham County." She is concerned that business expansion that occurs as a result of the wastewater treatment plant could be limited to Wake County, while Chatham County could experience largely residential growth that would worsen the area's problems with sprawl.
Many Chatham County residents were vigorously opposed over concerns about pipeline leaks, uncontrolled growth, the possibility of future annexation by Cary and decreasing property values.
However, representatives of RTP businesses supported the pipeline because they say the additional infrastructure is necessary to sustain and grow the local economy.
Outgoing Chatham County commissioners voted 5-0 to opt out of the state's one-year extension for all development permits. By doing so, the commission is requiring commercial and residential developers to reapply and submit to newer environmental regulations. In response to the housing market crash, the legislature passed the 2009 Permit Extension Act, which gave developers an extra year to comply with those laws.
Planning Board chairman Jim Elza clarified the meaning of the one-year extension act, noting that the 2010 extension would have allowed some developments to avoid the more stringent regulations for six years.
“I'm uncomfortable granting another year,” said Commissioner Sally Kost, “and some of these probably do need to expire.”
Janet Butcher, a developer representing builders in Wake and Chatham counties, asked the commissioners to allow the extension. “We're putting infrastructure and dollars into land and their won't be builders to build the developments if we don't extend these permits,” she said.
Elaine Chiosso, executive director of the Haw River Assembly, supported the commissioners' vote. “During the housing boom and growth era of 2004-07 there were tremendous violations of sedimentation and erosion control,” she said, “and we now have some of the best ordinances in the state.”
Commissioner George Lucier pointed out that permit extensions could be granted on an individual basis, and that the board has done so in the past.
Equally important was the last item on the agenda regarding the Western Wake Partners request to acquire easements for a eight-mile pipeline from their controversial wastewater treatment plant in New Hill to the Cape Fear River. Many Moncure residents who will lose property to the easement oppose the plan.
The Town of Cary, which, with Morrisville and Apex, is part of Western Wake Partners, could annex significant acreage east of Jordan Lake in Chatham County if commissioners don't grant the easement.
Lucier spoke out strongly on the issue saying, “We believe that the treated wastewater discharge line poses significant risks with little or no discernible benefits for our county and its residents. For these reasons, we recommend that Chatham County deny the WWP’s request to locate a discharge line through a section of the county until the Town of Cary agrees not to annex into the county without the county’s approval and this agreement is embodied in a local bill approved by the General Assembly.”
Lucier mentioned only Cary, but not Wake County, the bigger annexation threat. Kost added that the mayors of the towns making up the partnership have not responded to her numerous requests to schedule a meeting to discuss the matter.
Incoming commissioners Brian Bock, Pamela Stewart and Walter Petty ran platforms on protecting private property rights, and constituents in Moncure worry about the partners' previous handing of eminent domain and its implications for their property values and rights.
Outgoing commissioners made recommendations for the new Republican majority that will take office next month, but left the final decision to them.
This was the final meeting for incumbent Chatham County Commissioners Lucier, Tom Vanderbeck, and Carl Thompson, whose term ends Dec. 6, when Bock, Stewart and Petty will be sworn in.
The Rev. James Clanton, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Hill, was selected by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) as the recipient of the network's 2010 Florenza Moore Grant Community Environmental Justice Award.
Clanton received the prestigious award at the NCEJN's 12th annual summit in Whitakers this past weekend.
Clanton has led the community and his congregation at New Hill in its ongoing fight against the siting of a $327 million wastewater treatment plant in the center of the historical, unincorporated community. The five-year struggle has pitted the primarily African-American community against the predominantly white towns of Cary, Apex and Morrisville. The towns have formed the Western Wake Partnership, which is responsible for the wastewater treatment plant.
“Recently our surrounding municipalities have begun identifying us as this group that is holding back economic development or holding up progress,” said Clanton, “and it means a lot to receive this award and realize others are supporting and recognizing our hard work — and that we are not alone.”
Yesterday the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers' district commander Col. Jefferson M. Ryscavage issued the Corp's Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD gives the Western Wake Partners the necessary permit to begin building their $327 million wastewater plant at Site 14. That site is located on a 237-acre parcel of farmland taken by eminent domain by the Partners for the purpose of building the 62-acre wastewater treatment plant. The location lies adjacent to churches, playgrounds, and homes.
New Hill is a small town on the fringes of western Wake County. Because it is unincorporated, New Hill’s total size is hard to quantify in acres or miles, and there are no defined boundaries. On a map it sits between Moncure (Chatham County) and Apex.
More than five years ago, New Hill residents were upset by an alliance of Cary, Apex, Morrisville and Holly Springs, later known as Western Wake Partners. Soon the partners decided New Hill was an ideal location for them to build a wastewater treatment plant to meet the needs of their towns’ fast-growing populations.
The project is more than three years behind schedule. It could be completed by 2013, with construction beginning as early as this year.
While the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers felt their were no practicable alternatives to Site 14, there are significant social justice impacts that defy the Corp's statement that the project "is not contrary to the public interest."
Site 14 sits directly across the street from the New Hill Baptist Church and playground, and a half-mile away from the First Baptist Church of New Hill; the plant will be built within 1,000 feet of 23 homes.
More important, 83 percent of the 230-plus residents immediately affected by the sewage treatment plant are African-American; rural neighbors on fixed incomes or retired and elderly.
Chris Brook, attorney with the Southern Coalition of Social Justice representing the New Hill Community Association expresses disappointment after an initial review of the ROD with the NHCA.
"The ROD suffers from the same problems that have plagued this entire process: it does not adequately consider environmental justice or water quality concerns and also gives short shrift to alternative sites with fewer human impacts," he said.
The Indy confirmed this news account with a former employee who was among those laid off.
Fallen Earth, is a massively multiplayer online game that fast forwards to the year 2156 and plops players in a post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Grand Canyon (so this is what happens to Arizona after it passes its immigration bill ) where they shoot phantasmagorical creatures and scavenge to survive.
The game was released in September 2009 to mixed reviews, including a criticism that "Fallen Earth risks rejection by offering a virtual world based more closely on our own reality — set in a version of our own planet."
Four victims of the Haitian earthquake are scheduled to arrive in the Triangle this morning to receive medical attention, according to a press release sent by the N.C. Division of Emergency Management.
The four, one of whom is accompanied by an uninjured child, are being transfered to North Carolina to receive treatment for burns as Florida hospitals cannot handle the massive overflow of Haitians in need of help.
Three will be sent to the UNC Hospitals's Jaycee Burn Center. The other will be treated at the Wake Forest Baptist Burn Center. The patients, three men aged 24, 29 and 61 and a 54-year-old woman, were set to land at Raleigh-Durham International Airport this morning.
Republican incumbent Jennifer Robinson has defeated Democratic challenger Lori Bush by 269 votes in the runoff election for Cary Town Council District A. The margin of victory is 53 percent to 46 percent, or 2,170 votes to 1,901, according to unofficial results from the Wake County Board of Elections.
In the primary, Robinson won by 244 votes, but did not receive 50 percent of the vote, which gave Bush the right to call for a runoff. Some political observers speculated that Republicans might stay home since the Wake County school board race was decided in October; that could have boosted Bush's chances of winning.