Sunday, March 29, 2009

[indyweek] Raleigh leaders break long-held boundary on Falls Lake protections

by Matt Saldaña
January 14, 2009

Raleigh's elected officials voted 6-1 earlier this month to allow a charter school to build inside a natural resource buffer designed to protect the water quality of Falls Lake. The decision marks the city's first-ever exemption to protections established in the 1980s to control stormwater flooding and protect the city's drinking source.

"This is not a good precedent," said Councilor Thomas Crowder, the only negative vote.

Natural resource buffers restrict development within 100 feet of dry channels and intermittent streams, which help prevent erosion and naturally filter dirt and pollutants—such as nitrogen—from water that eventually drains into Falls Lake. They provide an additional protection beyond the state's required 50-foot riparian buffers, which surround water sources within protected watershed areas.

Raleigh's city code allows such an exemption in cases where "strict adherence to the provisions of the chapter will result in unnecessary hardship or create practical difficulties." Yet, in more than 20 years, officials have never approved one.

[View the entire article at the Independent Weekly.]