To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
CC BOC Meeting – Decision by Default
At the November 16th CC BOC Meeting we were expecting a final decision from the CC commissioners on Newland’s final two plats. Instead of voting to approve or deny, the commissioners simply did not vote. According to Chatham County procedures, the commissioners have up to 60-days to decide on final plat approvals. If they do not make a decision, the plats are approved by default 60 days after they were presented (in our case December 18th). In effect, by not voting they simply defaulted to approve at 60 days.
There were several interesting points made last night that residents should be aware of:
· Mr. Hageman (attorney for Chatham County) argued that WW issues such as capacity, sewage spills, and odor conditions are the responsibility of state agencies (NC Utilities Commission and NC DEQ) and not the responsibility of Chatham County.
· Tom Speers (our HOA president) voiced his support for approval and said that regionalization is now a dead issue.
· Mr. Hageman stated that the Tri-Party agreement does not prevent regionalization of the Briar Chapel WW system in the future. The agreement is only enforceable to the extent one of the parties chooses to enforce, it can be amended and it is not binding to successors.
· Mr. Hageman also stated that the Briar Chapel WW system can serve communities/ development outside of Briar Chapel and noted that Chatham County regulations allow future development to be added to the system (if the system has sufficient capacity and approval by NC Utilities Commission and NC DEQ).
· According to Mr. Hageman, it is a relatively easy process to add contiguous property (property that adjoins Briar Chapel’s current service area). Property that is in the area but not contiguous requires a process similar to the Fearrington Village application, which allows for public hearings and interventions.
· Nick Robinson (Newland’s attorney) mentioned that Newland and ONSWC have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that requires ONSWC to complete WWTP expansion on an agreed to schedule with financial security to ensure completion. We do not have a copy of this agreement, but we know that previously Newland had a commitment from ONSWC to provide them 600,000 gpd capacity for Briar Chapel and Newland’s extended service area outside of Briar Chapel.
A video has been posted of last night’s meeting, which you can view at this link. It was a long meeting, but we’ve noted the time for the portions of the meeting related to this issue.
SCN presentations – 3:05:20
Tom Speer’s presentation -3:24:30
Newland’s attorney (Nick Robinson) – 6:52:00
CC Commissioners and Mr. Hageman – 7:09:00
In addition, Dwight Allen (attorney for SCN) submitted a legal memorandum on behalf of SCN for delay/denial of the final plats to the Chatham County attorney and commissioners. In response, Nick Robinson (attorney for Newland) submitted a Newland’s legal response. Note, that in the 2nd to last paragraph of this document Newland states, “if Chatham County should deny approval of the Final Plats in contravention of the Subdivision Regulations and the preemption doctrine, NNP (Newland) will have no option other than to seek redress through the courts and, of course, will seek an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs….”
Is Regionalization a Dead Issue?
Given the discussion about regionalization at the CC BOC meeting, we first took a look at the property that is contiguous to Briar Chapel, using the Chatham County GIS Maps tool:
· Newland currently owns five properties totaling @ 233 acres contiguous to Briar Chapel
· Durham Farms (107 acres) is currently for sale and is contiguous to Briar Chapel
· Vickers-Bennett owned by Vickers-Bennett Group LLC (26 acres clustered residential property on the corner of 15/501 and Jack Bennett) is expected to come before the CC Planning Board in 2021. This property has a small area that is contiguous to Briar Chapel
Next we looked at the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity that the NC Utilities Commission issued to ONSWC on 4/20/2015. This document defines the service area of Briar Chapel’s WW system as “Briar Chapel Subdivision Service Area (including Herndon Woods Subdivision)”. Based on Rule R10-25, ONSWC can submit a notice of contiguous extension to extend their service area to property that is contiguous (property that shares a significant common boundary) with the existing service area. The notice is reviewed by the NCUC Public Staff. If they do not have any concerns, then it is passed forward to the weekly NCUC meetings where they can decide to issue an order approving the contiguous extension.
We also reached out to our legal counsel, Dwight Allen, to discuss the possibility of future expansion of the WWTP to development outside of Briar Chapel. Mr. Allen spoke with the public staff for NCUC regarding our concerns. The public staff indicated that while they are usually supportive of expansion of any unused plant capacity, given the history of service issues at the Briar Chapel WW system, the plant location and proximity to residential homes, the size of the containment ponds and the limited spray fields, it is highly unlikely that in the near future NCUC would approve any additional expansion. However, it does mean that we will need to ongoingly monitor these requests and be prepared to challenge. Regionalization is not dead.
Meeting with John McDonald
On November 10th we met with John McDonald to get his input on ONSWC’s commitments in the Tri-Party agreement:
· Submitted permit requests for forcemain bypass on 9/30/20. Change requested to re-position pipeline along Great Ridge Pkwy, resulting in change to plans, resubmitting to NCDEQ and new quote from contractor. Once approved, expect 3-4 weeks for construction
· New operator, Amanda Grenier, has been doing extensive cleaning at the WWTP aimed at reducing odor conditions at the plant
· Expects to break ground on WWTP expansion in January
We asked him if he was planning to keep the Briar Chapel WW system or sell it. He was clear that he prefers to sell the WW system and wants to find a reputable company to purchase the system.
Documenting our Concerns
We need to continue to document resident’s complaints/concerns. Since February 2020, we have documented over 325 resident complaints, with more than 225 involving odor complaints in the area around the WWTP. 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.
When you have a complaint, please call Integra Water’s customer service number 877-511-2911. To make sure your complaint is documented, we ask that you also email your concern to us at STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com. We will make sure your complaint is shared with our HOA, reported to NCDEQ and documented/tracked.
Total amount donated: $48,198.68 (465 families contributing)
Spent to date: $38,789.27
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 Liz Rolison, 1900 Briar Chapel Parkway, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or simply drop the check at Liz’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.
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