Crossroads

 
NEWSLETTER # 119      SEPTEMBER, 2006          

PO BOX 155, BEAUFORT, NC 28516             www.carteretcrossroads.org            

252-729-2521
 


            The following article was contributed by Frank Tursi, Cape Lookout Coastkeeper. Frank keeps watch over and tries to protect our central coast. He is sponsored by the NC Coastal Federation, which also has Coastkeepers caring for the northern and southern coasts.
 
Stormwater Runoff Rules.
 
            The efforts of Down East Tomorrow (DET) to control high-density growth in eastern Carteret County have highlighted the inadequacies of state and local programs to stem the poisonous tide of stormwater that threatens the county's most sensitive waters.
            Stormwater is now the largest source of coastal water pollution, closing thousands of acres of shellfish waters and, at times, making our beaches unsafe for swimming. Yet, the county has no program to control what is largely local pollution, and the state might as well not have a program
            The N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has been issuing permits to control stormwater for close to 20 years. A creature of political compromise, the program's so-called “low-density” permit allows developers to build up to 25 percent impervious surface along shellfish waters without any meaningful stormwater controls. Research done in New Hanover County and elsewhere has shown for years that impairment of shellfish waters begins when the surrounding watershed is developed to as little as 10 percent impervious. It's little wonder that more than 1,000 acres of shellfish waters have been closed in just the state's Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) – our highest water classification – since the stormwater program has been in existence.
            Finally, even DWQ officials couldn't ignore the evidence. They acknowledged last year that the “low-density” program has failed to protect our waters. Unfortunately, that hasn't kept them from continuing to issue permits that they know to be worthless. Just in the last two weeks, DWQ issued “low-density” stormwater permits at the maximum density allowed for residential developments on Harkers Island and in Cedar Point that border shellfish waters. Both permits were issued despite the objections of the state's Division of Marine Fisheries and Shellfish Sanitation Section.
            It seems clear by now that simply relying on the state's existing stormwater program will merely mean more closed waters and beaches. Though they have talked from time to time about devising their own stormwater plan, the county commissioners aren't moving very quickly in that direction.
            So where do we go from here? DWQ is moving to replace its failed program with one that would require retention ponds or other types of engineered controls and cap impervious surfaces at 36 percent within 575 feet of shellfish waters. Densities wouldn't be controlled beyond that buffer. Local governments would have to volunteer to join this Universal Stormwater Management Program. You can read more about the proposal at http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/su/usmp.htm.
            The N.C. General Assembly at the end of this year's session passed tougher restrictions aimed at controlling stormwater in mid-sized cities and counties across the state. Along the coast, only Wilmington and New Hanover County and Jacksonville and Onslow County will automatically qualify because of their populations. The law caps impervious surface at 12 percent within a half-mile of shellfish waters unless developers agree to install engineered controls. Cities and counties can volunteer for these permits, as Brunswick County and Newport have done. DWQ can require a local government to join the program or citizens can petition the agency to include a city or county if it can be shown that stormwater is polluting the water. You can read the bill at
http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2005&BillID=S1566.
 
                Editorial note: since this was written, the Division of Marine Fisheries has objected to a permit for a development on Harkers Island and the permit is being reviewed by DCM.


 
 
            The following article was provided by Christine Miller, who works for the NC Coastal Federation and is a Board member of Crossroads.
 
Proposed Navy Sonar Range.
 
Sonar Forum a Success.
 
            More than 120 people attended the all-day August 14 public forum on impacts of the proposed sonar range organized by the NC Coastal Federation. Speakers emphasized that lack of information on the impacts is not the same as no impacts—for fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles.  Representatives attended from the offices of Senator Dole, state Senate President Pro Tempore Basnight, Representative Walter B. Jones Jr., the legislative research division, the Attorney General’s office and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others.  The speakers gave excellent presentations and the stakeholder panel provided valuable on-the-ground insights related to commercial and recreational fishing and sea turtle protection.  The forum was widely covered by the Raleigh News & Observer, the Charlotte Observer, the Wilmington Star-News, Jacksonville Daily News, local and Triangle TV stations and local NPR. The forum was even featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Many people expressed their appreciation for the event, saying it was useful and educational.  Christine Miller organized the event and Crossroads Board members Dick Bierly and Joe Ramus both attended.  Stay tuned for the final Environmental Impact Statement; there will be an opportunity for public comment when it’s issued.
 
Down East Conservation Ordinance.
 
            As this is written, the Planning Commission has completed work on the DECO, which is being presented to the board of Commissioners for consideration at their next meting. By the time you read this, a decision will have been reached by the Board.
            Many of us are disappointed by the content of the DECO. It has some good points. It calls for wetlands to NOT be included in calculation of lot size. It also requires a buffer from the water of 50 feet, with the 30 feet next to the water being undisturbed with native vegetation. The other 20 feet can be managed but must be vegetated, thus allowing for lawn.
            Conditional Use Permits are required for marina, dry stacks and commercial buildings greater than 10,000 square feet. This will allow special conditions to be put on this type of development on a case-by-case basis.  However, the maximum allowable built-upon area for these types of development is 65%. For commercial development, a stormwater runoff plan is required, while for marinas and drystacks, a “water drainage plan” is required.
            The proposed ordinance does little to address the “cultural issues” that were central to the Down East call for a moratorium and also fails to establish needed limits on impervious surfaces. It will be interesting to see what action the Commissioners take.
 
Crossroads News.
 
            Please look at your mailing label for the current status of your membership. If you are receiving a “Free Newsletter” or a “Complimentary Copy”, we invite you to join us and support our efforts.
            We also hope that our members will support us by talking to friends about membership in Crossroads. We are happy to send free newsletters to prospective members.         
            After serving as President for over 2 ? years, Don Hoss has resigned due to a heavy schedule of traveling and other duties. We are grateful to him for the skill and enthusiasm he brought to the job and are happy that he is staying on as a Director.
            Our new President is Mark Hooper who has been on the Board for several years. Mark is a commercial fisherman in Smyrna and has been involved in fishery issues for some time, serving on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee for crab fishing issues.
            Our sincere thanks go to Bruce Ethridge, who has resigned from the Board after serving on the Board since 2003, most recently as Vice President. Your enthusiasm and knowledge will be missed.
 


For more information contact a Board member:
 
Bob Austin, 729-8101
Dick Bierly, 726-6663
Bob Coles, 247-2101
Billy Harvey, 728-7740
Jess Hawkins, 808-3354
Irv Hooper, Treas., NL Editor., 728-5117
Mark Hooper, Pres. 729-2521
 
Don Hoss, 728-3885
Christine Miller, 725-1824
Joe Ramus, 728-7725 (H), 504-7617 (W)
John Young, 728-2715 (H), 728-7166 (W)
Our webmaster is Sally Anger.
           
The Board usually meets at Duke Marine Lab Auditorium at 7:30 pm the second Thursday of each month. Members are welcome.


 
We invite you to join Crossroads. Tax-deductible dues are per year: Individual $15, Family $20, Patron $50 or $200 for a lifetime membership. Please return this form to: Crossroads, PO Box 155, Beaufort, NC 28516.
 
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Address _____________________                                 Phone (W) ____________________
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If we provide background information, will you occasionally call or write a local or state official on important environmental issues?  Yes___ No___
 
Crossroads IRS Number is 56-1442357
 
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.