Crossroads

 
NEWSLETTER # 122       MARCH, 2007           PO BOX 155, BEAUFORT, NC 28516             www.carteretcrossroads.org             252-729-2521
 

The Stormwater Rule Controversy.
 
          Everyone must be aware of the controversy over improving control of stormwater runoff—the major cause of the continuing deterioration of our coastal waters. The state is currently considering adding communities and counties to the Phase II rules. Also, the Environmental Management Commission is considering improved Coastal Stormwater Rules for the coastal counties. Meanwhile, the elements of our community that work for weaker Land Use Plans and few or no restrictions on development are fighting against any improvement in our environmental protection. The following is an article on the subject by two of Crossroads’ Board members.
 
By Dick Bierly and Joe Ramus
 
The February 19 resolution passed by five Carteret County Commissioners concerning the potential negative economic impacts of the new stormwater rules is at best misleading and at worst a deliberate red herring. The resolution is similar to one crafted by and championed by the Economic Development Council. The real driver of negative economic impact is rampant shoreline rezoning for high density development, for which there is no accounting. Virtually every meeting agenda for the county and municipal commissions contains requests for rezoning from developers which are recommended by planning boards, and mostly they are approved. The rezoning is approved without regard to the intent of the original zoning and without regard for cumulative impacts, enabled by weak land use plans. The developers make short term profits and leave the public to deal with long term social, economic and environmental impacts. These cumulative impacts include degraded water quality, degraded fisheries habitat, fewer working waterfronts, less beach and water access and less affordable housing. It’s not the stormwater rules folks!
There are many recent examples in Carteret County and its municipalities where shoreline rezoning for dense redevelopment has or will eliminate working waterfronts, beach access and/or affordable housing. An educational field trip might include for example Morgan Creek at Radio Island, the intersection of Turner and West Beaufort roads and the Avery Street area on Calico Creek. And to experience the environmental impacts of spot watershed rezoning which has resulted in massive stormwater runoff events see the Cypress Bay Plaza in Morehead City and the Town Creek watershed in Beaufort, both of which drain into the Newport River estuary. Every year more and more of the Newport River is being closed to shellfishing after rainfall events. Lower Pelletier Creek is filling with sediment from upper watershed development. Who will pay the cost of restoration?
The irony is that our leaders aggressively challenge the new rules proposed by the EMC rather than leading the way to find and implement the actions which will protect natural resources and the quality of life. They seem to prefer the unrestrained growth that is damaging the very economic core of the Crystal Coast.
We however agree with one provision of the resolution, that due diligence should be given to the economic analysis of the new stormwater rules, but as well give the same due diligence to the long term costs of degraded water quality and degraded fisheries habitat due to stormwater runoff, and to fewer working waterfronts, loss of beach and water access and less affordable housing due to spot rezoning, dense shoreline development and the damaged hydrology of watersheds.
 
Another approach.
 
          There are ways of developing that protect the environment and also give a quality product which is very attractive to buyers. There are various names for such practices such as “smart growth” or “low impact development”. We heard about one such successful project, Windsong near Wilmington, at a recent annual Meeting. Generally through clustering, judicious use of open space and great attention to stormwater runoff the water quality is protected and residents have an attractive setting. Everybody wins.
          The Coastal Federation is hosting the North Carolina Eastern Region (NCER) “Managing Stormwater with Low Impact Development (LID) Workshop” April 18 and 19, 2007 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.  NCER will sponsor the event in partnership with NCCF, the Carteret County Economic Development Council, and the NC National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Coastal Training Program.
NCER encourages anyone interested in North Carolina’s coastal development in light of new environmental regulations governing stormwater management to attend the workshop which will discuss the benefits and cost-effectiveness of new LID techniques.  Registration for the 2-day event is $25.00 and covers materials, breaks, and lunch. 
For more information, please contact the N.C. Coastal Federation at (252) 393-8185 or nccf@nccoast.org.
 
Miscellany.
 
Congratulations to Beaufort, its Planner, Planning Board and Board of Commissioners for developing a proposed new stormwater runoff control ordinance. It represents a good start but falls short in some respects. The good news is that the local government recognizes the problem and is working toward a solution.
 
Get used to the word “sustainability” It is increasingly being discussed as we ponder how our life style will look in the future. An interesting book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” by Jared Diamond looks at some advanced civilizations that have collapsed to see what can be learned from them. He finds the following contributing to societal collapse: environmental damage; natural climate variation; hostile neighbors: and a society’s response (or failure to respond) to its problems, including over consumption of natural resources and overpopulation,
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, we face many of the same problems today. This is one reason why a lot of us support groups such as Crossroads. We have to find a better way of interacting with our environment if we are to leave our children a livable, sustainable world.
 
The Carteret Wildlife Club deserves our hearty thanks and congratulations for its part in getting the new, longer pier at the public beach access at the east end of the Morehead high rise bridge. Once the public fishing pier on the south side of the highway closed, the Club worked with the county and then the city to enlarge the existing public pier. Thanks!
 
Thanks to everyone who attended the 27th Annual Meting of Crossroads. It was different and a great success. We invited all the volunteer organizations active in environmental issues to come, network and share their stories. Eleven responded; everyone had a good time and learned a little more about other groups with common interests. We hope we can continue to cooperate and share as we work for the common good.
 
Crossroads News.
 
          Our thanks go to our newest Life Members, Catherine and Chris Elkins for their generous support of Crossroads.
          We are sorry to lose two of our board members. Bob Austin and John Young resigned. Bob is planning retirement and John has been extremely busy with his job as manager of Beaufort Public Works. We will miss both of them. Thank you for your services. New members are Theresa Morton and Ron White. We will have more about them next time.
 
Please:
 
Be a good citizen:
Do what you can to lessen runoff.
 
Sign the Down East tomorrow petition asking for better stormwater controls.
 
Support public officials working for better runoff controls!
 
Keep thinking environment!