To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
We, SCN, have unfortunately come to a crossroads where we are not in alignment with the Briar Chapel HOA Board. We respect their role in this community. We appreciate their service and we recognize it is not an easy job. They give their time freely, as do the members of SCN. We simply don’t agree with recent actions taken by the Briar Chapel HOA Board.
Our HOA Board, Newland, and Integra Water/ONSWC have negotiated an agreement in exchange for the HOA Board’s support in gaining approval for Newland’s final plat approvals which will increase the demand on our wastewater system before addressing our wastewater concerns or compliance issues.
We, SCN, worked hard to represent the interests of the Briar Chapel residents voicing our concerns before the Chatham County Planning Board to deny this request. We have argued that no new development should be approved until the issues with odor, stability and capacity are resolved. The Chatham County Planning Board voted unanimously (10-0) to support our position. They shared and supported our concerns with the County Commissioners because they felt it was important to protect the safety, health and welfare of the Briar Chapel residents.
On Thursday evening, October 1st, members of the HOA Board asked to meet with SCN. At this meeting they revealed to us that the Briar Chapel HOA Board, Newland, and Integra Water/ONSWC (John McDonald) have negotiated and agreed on a framework agreement. Earlier that day, our HOA Board voted 4-1 to move forward with the agreement. They met with us that evening, not to negotiate, but to inform us of their plans to support Newland’s request for final plat approvals. We encourage you to read the HOA’s framework agreement and decide whether you feel this agreement is in the best interests of our community and residents. We would like to hear from YOU.
Summary of Agreement
The agreement called for Tom Speer, the President of our HOA, to attend the October 5th Chatham County Board of Commissioners and to voice BC HOA support for approval of the two final plats (Phase 13, section 3, and Phase 14) that Newland is requesting.
In exchange, Integra Water/ONSWC has agreed to:
· Withdraw the pending application with the NCUC to interconnect the wastewater systems of Fearrington Village (FV) and Briar Chapel (BC). [Note: The NCUC Public Staff had already notified StopChathamNorth, the FV HOA, and the Briar Chapel HOA that they will not be recommending approval of ONSWC’s application with the NCUC – the application is essentially dead in the water. It is also our understanding ONSWC is in the process of selling the Briar Chapel wastewater system and that the docket will be withdrawn and revised accordingly when a new owner is secured. Further, we understand that Fitch Creations (who owns the FV WWTP) and ONSWC have mutually agreed to terminate their purchase agreement. FV will remain an independent system. Our goal of not becoming a regional wastewater treatment plant is in sight.
· Implement a pipeline from Pump Station A to SD East force main, bypassing the current force main by June 2021. [Note: Integra Water/ONSWC had already committed to implementing this force main bypass in their Sept 4th email to residents.]
· Increase the capacity of the BC WWTP to 500,000 gpd by June 2021. [This allows Newland to complete the Briar Chapel community, but also gives them capacity for their development plans outside of Briar Chapel, referred to as extended service area (ESA).]
· Replace dead trees at Sports Courts and restart irrigation at Sports Courts. [These are already contractual obligations which need to be enforced.]
· Pay Briar Chapel HOA $75,000 in damages for the damage incurred on BCCA property with the installation of the SD East force main. [Note: We have been told by the BCCA that they intend to use those funds to repair the area outside of the 20’ easement.]
· Allow the BC HOA to have a “seat at the table” for future communications meetings on the wastewater treatment system and other matters materially affecting the HOA and BC community. [We are not clear what a “seat at the table” means if there isn’t any defined authority. Are they invited to listen? Do they have authority to veto or concur with recommendations?]
Our Concerns with this Agreement
StopChathamNorth (SCN) was formed when our HOA Board announced in January 2020 (refer to section of document highlighted in yellow) that they could not represent Briar Chapel residents in the ONSWC applications before the NCUC. We are a group of concerned residents that feel Briar Chapel homeowners need a voice on these issues. We question why the HOA Board would negotiate an agreement with Integra/ONSWC and Newland, and then vote to move forward with it, without providing an opportunity for residents to be informed and represented.
We requested a meeting with the BC HOA on Friday, Oct. 2nd. SCN attorney, Dwight Allen, expressed our concerns and asked for a 30-day delay to work out these issues. Late on Sunday, Oct. 4th we were notified that Newland /ONSWC would ask the CC BOC’s for a continuance to move their presentations and requests for final plat approvals to Oct. 19th. We all agreed to delay our arguments before the CCBOC until we could try to negotiate a resolution to these concerns.
We have a number of concerns with the HOA/Newland/ONSWC framework agreement. We met with the HOA Board on Friday, October 9th (Newland and ONSWC were not present) and discussed our documented concerns (SCN Concerns with HOA/Newland/ONSWC Agreement). They listened to our concerns, but felt it was too late to renegotiate their agreement. They suggested that our attorney negotiate directly with Newland and ONSWC on Briar Chapel’s resident’s behalf. They prefer to wait until a council could be organized (Newland, ONSWC, HOA and a resident representative) to work on these concerns. We feel very strongly that the concerns we have raised, most of which are compliance issues, must be resolved PRIOR to any further development of the community. ONSWC and Newland have had ten months to work on these issues, with no significant progress during this time.
At the close of the meeting, Tom Speer announced that he will support Newland’s final plat approvals at the October 19th CC BOC meeting, unless he can be convinced that the WW system will not have sufficient capacity at the time these properties come online. Our engineer will be meeting with Newland’s engineer on Monday and will submit his findings on our system’s capacity.
We would like to hear from you. Your voice is important to us. Given recent events, SCN plans to have our attorney, engineer and others represent SCN at the Oct 19th Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting to oppose Newland’s request for final plat approvals. It is not a public hearing, but we will do our best to present our concerns about the need to ensure the stability, capacity and compliance of the Briar Chapel wastewater system before Chatham County approves additional development. We believe more sewage volume on our system, before these problems are addressed will only increase the frequency of issues we are already experiencing (e.g. sewage spills, compliance violations, odors), putting the health, safety and welfare of our residents at risk.
If you support our position, WE NEED YOUR HELP. Below, we have listed several actions you can take to help us.
What Residents Can Do
Your voice is critical and we need your help in making our concerns heard and represented to the HOA board and Chatham County Commissioners. Here are the steps you can take to let your voice be heard.
· Read the Framework of Agreement that the HOA voted to move forward with and decide for yourself whether you feel this represents the best interests of the Briar Chapel community and our residents /homeowners.
· Sign the petition asking Chatham County Commissioners to not approve Newland’s final plat approvals until our wastewater system is stabilized and expanded. All voting age residents of Chatham County can sign this petition (only one signature per person). Please share with your neighbors and make sure everyone in your household has signed. StopChathamNorth Petition
· Sign up to speak at the October 14th Briar Chapel HOA “Virtual” Public Board meeting (7-9pm). Residents will be allowed to speak for 3 minutes. The moderator will need each speaker to sign up as a speaker by emailing ahead of time: Thomas.Speer@briarchapellife.com. A 200-word abstract is not needed but is helpful for our BCCA secretary to include in minutes. The moderator will use the speaker sign-up list to call on individual members, and their microphone will be unmuted and the resident allowed to speak for the allotted 3-minutes. After speaking, the resident’s microphone will once again be muted by the moderator. Register for the webinar at:
· Contact our HOA Board using the Contact the Board Form to express your opinion on this agreement. Note, only residents of Briar Chapel can access this form by signing into the www.briarchapellife.com website.
· Register for the Chatham County Board of Commissioners Meeting that will be held on Monday, October 19th at 6 pm via Webinar (remote meeting tool). To attend via webinar, you must sign up via a link that Chatham County will provide closer to the date. (We will send out the link, once it becomes available.) When you register, they will send you a link (typically the day of the meeting) allowing you to sign in to watch and listen from your laptop/computer. This meeting is not a public hearing. The public is given 30 minutes of Public Input at the beginning of the meeting. We will have several speakers, including our attorney and subject matter expert. We understand that there is also a group of residents outside of Briar Chapel that will be voicing concerns about buffer issues with these plats.