To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
Hopefully these weekly emails are helping you stay current on the issues surrounding Briar Chapel’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).
What do we Stand for?
We wanted to clarify exactly what our position is and what StopChathamNorth stands for.
StopChathamNorth does NOT support a regional wastewater treatment plant within the residential community of Briar Chapel. We are aware that there are a number of new communities surrounding Briar Chapel that are planning to utilize our WWTP, in addition to the current proposal to add Fearrington Village to our WWTP. We are opposed to all of these plans to expand Briar Chapel’s WWTP for uses outside of the Briar Chapel residential community. We also believe that the WWTP and ONSWC must be fully compliant with all governance and regulatory guidelines to ensure operations do not create nuisance, unhealthy or hazardous conditions for Briar Chapel residents.
Rescheduled Evidentiary Hearing with the NCUC
On February 26th, the NC Utilities Commission posted an Order Rescheduling Hearing and Establishing Deadlines for Prefiling Testimony. The hearing has been rescheduled for Tuesday, June 16th at 10am in Raleigh, NC. We will get you more information on where the meeting will be held and how we plan to organize our response as we get closer to the date. The prefiling schedule is:
· May 1st - Chatham North, Old North State and Fitch Creations are required to file their supplemental direct expert witness testimony addressing issues raised by public witnesses in the January 14th hearing.
· May 15th - The Public Staff and intervenors (i.e., Briar Chapel Community Association and StopChathamNorth) may file any supplemental direct expert witness testimony.
· May 29th - Chatham North, Old North State, and Fitch Creations may file any supplemental rebuttal expert witness testimony.
Our attorney has been upfront with us that this process will take time. Between now and June 16th the attorney will be engaging with relevant parties, researching information and preparing an intervention on behalf of the StopChathamNorth resident group. A final decision is not expected until after the June 16th meeting and most likely it will be sometime in October-November 2020.
In the meantime, our attorney has initiated contact with the BCCA attorney. Mr. Allen continues to provide guidance to the StopChathamNorth steering committee on outreach activities including meetings and correspondence with key organizations and individuals. Mr. Allen is also encouraging our Briar Chapel residents to continue their outreach activities, such as: documenting their concerns/complaints about Envirolink, documenting any meetings with Envirolink or ONSWC staff and participating in meetings/public hearings where it is important to demonstrate resident concern about expanding our WWTP into a regional facility. If you have information that you want to share with SCN’s legal counsel, please email your information to mailto:STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com.
NC DEQ Issues Notice of Violation
NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) issued a Notice of Violation and Intent to Enforce on February 20th for a direct discharge of filter backwash water onto Briar Chapel property that is not covered under the non-discharge permit (WQ0028552) issued to ONSWC. This violation came from a complaint filed by a citizen of our community.
Meetings of Note
This week we continued to reach out to a number of organizations, groups and individuals that we felt could be supportive of our mission:
· Ann Lowry, Chatham County Director of Environmental Health and Layton Long, Chatham County Health Director – provided updates on the issues that have been occurring at Briar Chapel’s WWTP. They were well informed through numerous calls from residents and frequent contact with NC DEQ. They encouraged steps we’ve been taking, such as documenting all resident complaints to Envirolink and made some further recommendations on steps we should push with NC DEQ.
· Lee Bowman – Director of Project and Corporate Development for Envirolink (formerly Senior Project Manager for Newland and member of Briar Chapel HOA Board – meeting requested by Lee Bowman to meet with a group of residents who have recently sent complaints about odor and other concerns to Envirolink. Information was presented documenting that odor complaints had been reported for all but 1 day since reporting began Feb 7th. Currently most of the issues are in residential areas surrounding the WWTP, since spray irrigation is currently not in use. Mr. Bowman mentioned that ONSWC plans to flush the irrigation lines and start adding chlorine to the irrigation spray. He listened to our complaints, but no explanations/resolutions were provided. He continues to state they are “monitoring” conditions.
· Diana Hales – Chatham County Commissioner – Diana Hales has an environmental background and is well informed about our situation. The conversation with her was helpful and we do consider her an advocate for our position. She emphasized that we need to thoroughly document our issues with ONSWC, including photographic evidence where possible. Diana will be speaking at the Briar Chapel Clubhouse on March 10th at 9am to discuss how county government works. We plan to meet with her again in the near future.
· Chatham County Appearance Committee – agenda included proposal for Chatham Community Church being built on Andrews Store Road, just down from Chatham Grove Elementary. We confirmed that they do not plan to use the Briar Chapel WWTP, they will be installing their own septic system.
· NCDEQ Public Information Officer – Sent a number of questions to NCDEQ seeking clarification on various relevant issues.
· Jason Sullivan – Chatham County Planning Board – Sent questions asking for further clarification of Chatham County Comprehensive Plan and their action items for establishing standards for decentralized wastewater systems in CC and identification of Urban Service Areas where public sewer systems are preferable and feasible.
Upcoming meetings to watch for:
· Chatham County Planning Board – Tuesday, March 3rd at 6:30-8:30pm at the Chatham County Old Agriculture Building at 65 E. Chatham Street – Agenda includes a brief 15-minute public input session and the Planning Director’s report on public hearing items for the March 16, 2020 BOC meeting, which includes Williams Corner (see more information below). We plan to have a few members of our group to attend – to remind the Planning Board that we are watching and do not support the use of Briar Chapel’s WWTP by Williams Corner.
· Chatham County Board of Commissioners – Monday, March 16th at 6pm at Agriculture & Conference Center at 1192 US 64W – We are awaiting the final agenda, but it has been confirmed that a public hearing for Williams Corner is on the agenda. CC BOC will be voting on a rezoning request by Bold Development for Williams Corner (located at 15/501 and Lystra Road). Rezoning request includes plans for 540-unit multi-family apartments, 140,000 sf retail and 90,000 sf office space – with plans to utilize WWTP in Briar Chapel owned by ONSWC. The BCCA HOA Board and members of StopChathamNorth will testify. Residents are encouraged to attend to show their concern about these plans.
Full Court Press – Contact Envirolink
Thank you for documenting your complaints to Envirolink. Since Feb 7th, we have been copied on 54 complaints, including: 46 complaints for odors, 4 construction complaints, 3 general complaints and 1 spill. In comparison, Envirolink reported to the NC Utilities Commission that in 2019 there were a total of 79 service complaints of which only 10 were due to odor. While we regret that our residents are experiencing these issues, we believe this documentation will make a difference in showing that Briar Chapel residents have serious concerns that have been underreported.
It’s important to document any concerns or complaints that you personally experience with the Briar Chapel wastewater management system (odor, runoff, spills, spray effluent pooling) by writing to Envirolink. Just a simple email works. If your concern can be documented with a picture (e.g., spills, spray effluent pooling), please attach any pictures you’ve taken of the incident to your email. We know that many of you have stopped calling because the response you have received from Envirolink in the past has been inadequate, but it is imperative that we continue this effort and build a record of your complaints. We also know that you experience some of these conditions over and over (i.e., odor) but again it is important to document these concerns each time you experience them.
When you have a complaint, Envirolink asks that you call their customer service number 252-235-4900. To make sure your complaint is documented, we ask that you also email your concern to firstname.lastname@example.org and copy (cc) us at STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com. Your concern will only be tracked if you send the email.
Total contributions to date (as of 2/26/2020): $28,698.53
Total number of contributors: 309
We’d like to thank everyone who has already donated towards the cost of legal representation. We have funded the retainer for the attorney and are working towards sufficient funds to cover us for the NC Utilities Commission Evidentiary Hearing through to final decision. If you haven’t had a chance to make a donation yet, please consider doing this. We’ve had questions from many of you asking for help in determining a suggested donation. We want people to contribute what they can, but a minimum of $100 will greatly help in paving the way toward funding for the longer term.
You can donate via PayPal by using this link:
If you prefer not to use PayPal:
You can write a check to: STOPCHATHAMNORTH and mail it to: STOPCHATHAMNORTH in care of Terri Burrell, 78 Middleton Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or simply drop the check at Terri’s house.
We are maintaining a full accounting of these funds and will return any unused funds to all homeowners who contribute on a prorated basis.
Thank you again for contributing. If we all work together, we have a better chance of achieving our goals.