To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
Over the last two weeks all of our attempts to negotiate with the HOA Board, Newland and ONSWC have either been ignored or unsuccessful. We were simply trying to add to the existing HOA Board/Newland/ONSWC agreement or augment with an additional agreement to address odor issues and elements that would make the agreement more specific and enforceable. With the HOA Board agreeing to support Newland, we are not left in a good position for negotiations. They simply do not want to renegotiate to address residents concerns. Their unwillingness to work with us speaks volumes.
Our attorney and subject matter expert (WW engineer) will testify on our behalf at the Monday, October 19th Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting. The meeting starts at 6pm. They have a few administrative items to clear, then the Public Input (we will have some speakers participating) and then into the agenda. Newland, ONSWC and SCN will be presenting in that order. You can sign up to remotely attend the meeting at this link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2686109515852203532. Once you register, you will be sent an email confirmation with a link to join the meeting.
HOA Town Hall
On October 13th, the HOA Board held a virtual Town Hall. This meeting was advertised as a discussion of ongoing negotiations with ONSWC, Newland, and BCCA on Briar Chapel wastewater issues, allowing residents an opportunity to ask questions of the HOA Board. It turned out to be a tightly controlled meeting, not a discussion. The HOA Board started by having Jerry Cole present a formal presentation (HOA Board has not yet posted a copy of the presentation). Afterwards, their attorney, Hope Carmichael, read resident questions and either Tom would answer or he would select a board member to answer.
We’ve heard from many of you that the questions you submitted, were not read. We reached out to Chris Neuhauser and he has sent us a list of the questions he received from residents and forwarded to the HOA Board. We certainly understand that they would not read every question or repetitive questions, but there were a lot of good questions that were not read or answered.
Here are the key points that we pulled from their presentation:
1. Why wasn’t SCN included in the agreement?
HOA Board: SCN is an unincorporated advocacy group which does not have legal standing, while the BCCA is incorporated and represents all residents.
SCN: SCN is an unincorporated non-profit association representing concerned homeowners within Briar Chapel. We do; however, have legal standing. NCUC has recognized us an Intervener in the NCUC docket. We were formed because our HOA Board decided back in January 2020 that they could not represent residents in the wastewater issues before NCUC. On this matter, the HOA Board does not represent the residents.
2. Will a formalized agreement be fully executed before the HOA Board gives their support at the October 19th CC BOC meeting for Newland’s final plat approvals? Will this agreement be shared with residents?
HOA Board: The Framework of Agreement is “an agreement to make an agreement”. A formal Settlement Agreement is being developed based on the Framework which Hope Carmichael (HOA Board Attorney) will review and make a final recommendation to the Board.
SCN: We are pleased that at SCN’s request, the HOA Board/Newland/ONSWC agreed to postpone their presentations at he October 5th CC BOC, allowing our HOA Board to work towards a formalized agreement prior to their endorsement of Newland’s final plat approvals. We feel this agreement should be fully signed and executed before the HOA Board gives their approval for Newland’s final plats. We want to be clear; we do not support this agreement. The agreement does not address the odor issues in our community and it lacks specificity and enforceability.
3. Why isn’t the HOA Board requiring a Secured Bond by ONSWC to ensure completion of these commitments?
HOA Board: Bonds will be posted as part of plat approval by ONSWC for the WWTP expansion as well as Newland for the remaining spray irrigation installation. Later, Tom said that Newland and ONSWC already have bonds with the county.
SCN: This is one of the recommendations we made to the HOA Board on October 9th. Currently ONSWC has bonds with NCUC as a requirement of their Certificate of Public Convenience. Newland has bonds with Chatham County for each of their plats that are approved that are still under development. These bonds do not cover anything in this agreement. Given ONSWC’s plans to sell the system, we believe secured bonds tied to the commitments in this agreement are a must.
4. Why was Odor Control (in the area surrounding the WWTP) not included in this agreement?
HOA Board: The HOA Board was not aware of the odor issues surrounding the WWTP until last month and the odor issues will be one of the issues taken up by the Council.
SCN: The odor issues have been going on for several years, and residents complaints are well documented. All of the HOA Board members receive our SCN emails, where odor issues are mentioned frequently. The HOA Board was present for the testimony of numerous residents on odor concerns at the NCUC public hearing in January 2020. In testimony before the CC Planning Board, SCN was very detailed and specific about odor conditions in our community.
5. Why has the HOA Board not opposed Newland?
HOA Board: The Declaration of Convenants, Conditions & Restrictions for Briar Chapel, paragraph 10.4 restricts the HOA from using association funds to protest or oppose Newland’s development plans without the prior written consent of Newland.
SCN: We recognize that Newland has our HOA Board in a contract that does not allow them to oppose Newland on this matter, but as Shelley pointed out the HOA Board is not required to support the plat approvals. That is a choice.
6. Is there sufficient capacity on the Briar Chapel WW system for Newland’s plat approvals?
HOA Board: During the meeting Tom Speer said that the engineers (Newland, ONSWC and SCN) had met and determined that there is sufficient capacity to handle Newland’s plat approvals.
SCN: The Briar Chapel WWTP does NOT currently have adequate capacity. If ONSWC completes their planned expansion of the irrigation system, they should have capacity by the time the new homes come online as detailed below.
The Briar Chapel WWTP is permitted at 250,000gpd, but the spray irrigation system only has 203,000gpd constructed and permitted. The spray irrigation is the constraint. Last month, our WWTP processed 215,000gpd and over the last 12 months has averaged 203,000gpd. So today there is not sufficient capacity. Since we raised the capacity issue at the CC Planning Board meeting in August, Newland has been pushing ONSWC to address this issue. Last week, ONSWC submitted two permit modification requests to NCDEQ to add additional spray irrigation capacity. If these are approved in the next few months, then ONSWC will have sufficient capacity for these plats by the time they come online in June 2021. This explains why it is important to keep Newland engaged in these issues.
7. What is the representation of the Council?
HOA Board: Newland, ONSWC and HOA Board will set up a collaborative council to exchange information and discuss and resolve issues. The agreement does not include any resident representation. During the Town Hall, Jim Proper suggested that SCN be given a representative on the council, which Tom Speer would not commit it.
SCN: The HOA Board decided that they could not represent residents on wastewater issues because on the Covenants 10.4 restriction; therefore, we believe the council needs a resident representative on the Council.
8. Does the Council or HOA Board have the power to prevent Newland from adding more development outside of the Briar Chapel community onto the Briar Chapel WW system?
HOA Board: Newland has told the HOA Board that Newland has no current plans to add additional development outside of the Briar Chapel community onto the Briar Chapel WW system.
SCN: The Purchase Agreement between Newland and ONSWC requires ONSWC to reserve up to 600,000gpd for the Briar Chapel community and Newland’s extended service areas (this is property that Newland may develop outside of the Briar Chapel community). In addition, Newland has the option to purchase up to an additional 50,000 gpd in the WWTP. As Shelley pointed out, Newland has reserved all rights to expand, this agreement does not restrict these rights.
9. What are the financial ramifications of delaying Newland’s final plats?
HOA Board: If approval of Newland’s final plats is delayed six months, the BCCA would lose $107,630 in dues income over the next four years. They are also concerned that Newland may walk away from the community.
SCN: First, this is not lost income, it is delayed income. It will also mean that the costs associated with managing those parts of the community will be delayed. Shelley pointed out, that this amount of delayed revenue is less than 1% of the overall $2.5m annual budget.
HOA Board Meeting
The following night, October 14th, the HOA Board had a regular meeting, but this was the first time they offered a resident input section since they had moved to a remote meeting format for Covid. During the resident input section there were 9 speakers. The first two residents spoke in support the agreement between Newland/ONSWC and HOA Board, with the second speaker emphasizing that the agreement should be finalized first. There were six residents who spoke in opposition to the agreement between Newland/ONSWC and HOA Board. Concerns expressed included: significant odor concerns from residents living near the WWTP, distrust of Newland and wanting to delay approvals until critical WW systems are addressed, concern that Newland can continue to add development outside of Briar Chapel onto the WW system and concern that there is no resident representation in these negotiations.
Later in the agenda, Tom Speer gave an update on the Infrastructure Task Force. He announced that Vic D’Amato of TetraTech, who is already providing consulting to the HOA Board on the wetlands is going to be consulting of the odor issues around the WWTP.
Fitch Creations/ONSWC Terminate Purchase Agreement for Fearrington Village WWTP
It is our understanding, that Fitch Creations (owner of Fearrington Village) and ONSWC have mutually agreed to terminate their purchase agreement for ONSWC to acquire the Fearrington Village WWTP. Fearrington Village plans to make appropriate upgrades to their system. For Briar Chapel, this means there will be no connection to the Fearrington Village system.
New Operator for Briar Chapel WWTP
September 30th was Envirolink’s last day operating the Briar Chapel WWTP. Rodney Horne is now the ORC (Operator Responsible in Charge) for the Briar Chapel WWTP. He is located locally, which should help with response time if an issues arises after hours or on weekends. We are hopeful that this change is a step in the right direction.
ONSWC Files Applications to Transfer WW Systems to Pluris
In the last two weeks, ONSWC has filled two dockets before the NCUC to transfer three of their WW systems located in eastern NC to a Pluris (a respected WW owner/operator). We had heard that Mr. McDonald was trying to sell the WW systems that ONSWC owns in NC, the sale of these assets has begun. (Majestic Oaks - Docket W-1300 Sub 69 and Majestic Oaks West/Salter Haven and Grey Bull Docket W-1305 Sub 29.)
StopChathamNorth is an unincorporated non-profit association representing concerned homeowners within Briar Chapel. StopChathamNorth does NOT support a regional wastewater treatment plant within the residential community of Briar Chapel. We are aware that there are several 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 a nuisance, unhealthy or hazardous conditions for Briar Chapel residents.
For more information: www.stopchathamnorth.com