To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
In this email you will find information about:
1. Chatham County commissioners approve a rule change limiting public input on Zoning and Major Subdivision Applications.
2. Latest updates on Fearrington Preserve’s proposal and its potential impact on Briar Chapel’s wastewater system.
3. Talk on “Living with a WWTP and Reclaimed Water: What I Should Know and Why I Should Care” scheduled for November 14th, 4-6pm at Breakaway Café.
4. Updates on the Tri-Party Council.
Chatham County Approves Rule Change Limiting Public Input
On Monday, October 18th during a daytime session of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners (CCBOC), the commissioners approved a rule change limiting public input on zoning and major subdivision applications. The new rules for public hearings apply to required public hearings before the CC BOC on zoning, text amendment and first plat applications. The changes to the procedure include:
· The developer’s presentation (applicant and their agents) is capped at 15 minutes.
· The public may speak for 2 minutes per speaker if they have pre-registered to speak (previously this was 3 minutes) and submit written copies of their statement.
· The developer (applicant and their agents) will have five minutes for rebuttal.
· Once a public hearing is closed, the public may not provide public input during subsequent Board meetings (ie., when the application is brought back to the board for approval), though the public can submit additional written comments to the Clerk or board members.
In essence, these changes mean that public comment on an application will only be allowed during the initial public hearing and will be limited to 2 minutes per speaker. Unfortunately, the result is that a process that is already heavily tilted towards developers will be even more difficult to challenge.
Note, these rules changes go into effect at the November 15th CC BOC meeting, where the Fearrington Preserve proposal will be up for approval.
November 15th CC Planning Board – Fearrington Preserve
At the November 15th CCBOC meeting, Fearrington Preserve’s application for an amendment to the Compact Community Ordinance (CCO) Map is up for final approval. The CC Planning department has recommended approval and the CC Planning Board (made up of resident volunteers) has recommended denial of the application. Due to the rules changes mentioned above, residents will not be able to speak during Public Input. We can, however, submit written comments to the CC commissioners via Lindsay.email@example.com .
Here’s the application for Fearrington Preserve to expand the Compact Community map to include all of the Fearrington Preserve property. At the Oct. 5th CC Planning Board meeting, Randy Voller (representative for the developer) presented some additional information found in this document. In short, he is proposing the following to provide wastewater service to Fearrington Preserve:
1. First option involves providing land on Fearrington Preserve for a regional WWTP for use by Fearrington Preserve, possibly repurposing of the Briar Chapel WWTP and Fearrington Village WWTP, and service to aging septic systems in the surrounding area. This option requires connection to Fearrington Village’s discharge permits and cooperation among all of the mentioned private WWTP owners, municipal and county government and community associations. Most importantly it requires an entity to finance, build and operate the WW system. Mr. Voller plans to offer this as an option to the upcoming Wastewater Study Commission who will be looking for a long term, sustainable solution for wastewater in NE Chatham County.
2. Absent a consensus on option 1, Fearrington Preserve will pursue a secondary option of connecting to ONSWC (Briar Chapel WWTP) as a contiguous property within the defined Extended Service Area (as submitted by the Newland owned Briar Chapel Utilities in June 2008 to NC Utilities Commission).
3. The third option is Fearrington Preserve will build a small WWTP and spray field and possibly individual septic fields that will serve only Fearrington Preserve.
In discussions with Mr. Voller in early October, we confirmed that despite his ambitious proposal on Option 1, they have not yet held discussions with any of the key parties: NCUC, NCDEQ, John McDonald (ONSWC) or Mr. Fitch (Fitch Creations). As a result, we are concerned that Option 1 does not represent a credible proposal. There is also a timing issue. Option 1 (if worked out) would take 5-10 years to implement, Fearrington Preserve is planning to move forward much more quickly. Mr. Voller did confirm that he would expect to be able to use the Briar Chapel system until and if Option 1 can be worked out.
Fearrington Preserve is contiguous to Briar Chapel property. This is important because if the owner of the Briar Chapel WW system (ONSWC) were to decide to expand service to these contiguous areas, it is a relatively easy process to get approval from the state (NC Utilities Commission).
Living with a WWTP and Reclaimed Water
The first in a series of interactive sessions have been scheduled for Sunday, November 14th from 4-6 pm on the topic “Living with a WWTP and Reclaimed Water: What I Should Know and Why I Should Care”. These sessions will be held at Breakaway Café and are open to residents throughout NE Chatham County. Presenters include: Dr. Hal House (a local environmental scientist), Rich Hayes (a local soil scientist) and Liz Rolison (StopChathamNorth) with Amy Coughlin moderating these discussions. Attendees are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The initial questions these sessions are hoping to answer, include:
· How does a wastewater system work?
· What have been the problems with the Briar Chapel wastewater system and what can we learn from them?
· What can the residents of Chatham County do to advocate effectively for responsible wastewater management?
· What role has politics played in Chatham County wastewater issues?
Status Update on Tri-Party Agreement
Here’s the latest information we have on the status of the work outlined in the Tri-Party Agreement:
· Work on the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) expansion to 500,000 gpd is on schedule and expects to be completed by the end of the year. NCDEQ has approved the permit to allow the odor control improvements to be added as part of this expansion.
· NC DEQ has issued the permit approving additional spray irrigation packages H, I, and J which when constructed, certified, and fully operational will provide up to 552,806 gpd capacity to our spray irrigation system. Construction for Package H has begun and covers property around the Western retention pond and near the end of Logbridge Rd. This area will be heavily irrigated. Packages I and J include: conversion of Encore homeowner irrigation from potable to reclaimed water, Encore common areas and the woods surrounding Encore, behind Cliffdale/Whispering Wind and the Sports Courts area. SCN Comment: The permit does not allow year-round irrigation for some zones within the community and does not allow use of the irrigation system during major rain events or during freezing temperatures. It also discourages the growth of edible crops: vegetables, herbs and fruit trees in areas that are irrigated with reclaimed water unless they are thermally processed before consumption.
· The BCCA has published test results of the irrigation system so far this year: July 14th at Boulder Park, July 28th at the median on BC Parkway/ Serenity Hill, Aug 17th at Great Meadow Park and Aug 27th in Briar Commons. They tested for ammonia-nitrogen, BOD and fecal coliform. All tests were within contaminant limits for effluent set by NCDEQ. BCCA is planning to test soon in the newly certified areas in Encore (16 South).
· ONSWC verified that the encasement pipe on the aerial sewer lines over Pokeberry Creek extends for 100 ft in one direction and 200 feet in the other direction. A structural engineer is now being engaged to determine what actions should be taken to assure the integrity of the pipe.
· Work on the SD-East Pump station is nearing completion. This pump station will be used by the commercial areas under development by Newland east and west of 15/501 near Taylor Road.
· Meeting notes were posted for the September 14th meeting. One interesting item to note: Jerry Cole raised the issue about erosion and landscaping issues on several of the properties turned over to the BCCA prior to the transition to the homeowner board. Tanya Matzen, of Newland, responded that Newland is working with CC Watershed on the erosion issues, but states that the landscaping is the responsibility of the BCCA since the property was turned over several years ago.
· The last meeting of the Tri-Party Council was on October 12th. Meeting notes are not yet available from that meeting. The next meeting of the Tri-Party Council is scheduled for November 9th.
Documenting our Concerns
We are extremely thankful for the information shared with us by BC residents. To date, residents have reported over 500 complaints about spills, odor conditions, irrigation and other issues. When you have a complaint, please call ONSWC’s customer service number 877-511-2911 and press “1” for customer service. 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 documented and shared with all the appropriate parties (ONSWC, NCDEQ, BCCA, First Residential, Chip White).
Total amount donated: $51,966.85 (507 families contributing)
Spent to date: $42,603.06 (Legal: $35,317.50, Engineering Expert: $6,142.00, Administrative: $1,143.56)
We are maintaining a full accounting of these funds and will return any unused funds to all contributors taking into account the weighted average cost to contribution basis. Thank you again for contributing.
StopChathamNorth is an incorporated non-profit 501(c)(4) social welfare 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 of several new communities surrounding Briar Chapel that are planning to utilize 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