by Matt Saldaña
In response to a citizen request that the N.C. Environmental Management Commission overturn the N.C. Division of Water Quality's approval of a private developer's survey of Jordan Lake, DWQ stands by its original ruling, emphasizing that it approved the survey based on technical merits alone.
"If the Durham County BOCC chooses to pursue another survey, DWQ will also consider those results based on their technical merits," writes DWQ director Coleen Sullins, in an April 15 letter to EMC (PDF, 532 KB).
The Indy has put in a call to state regulators, requesting information about the next step in the petition process. Presumably, EMC--not DWQ--will have the final say on whether or not to overturn the survey approval. We'll post an update once we get a response.
Meanwhile, Durham County is moving forward with a public hearing process before deciding whether or not to modify its zoning maps, based on the DWQ-approved survey.
In a February letter to Durham Planning Commission chair George Brine--one of the three citizen petitioners--John Hennessy, a supervisor in DWQ's compliance and oversight unit, writes, "It is my understanding that Durham County will be required to follow public notification procedures before adopting these changes to their zoning maps."
DWQ's letter is in reply to an April 1 letter from EMC, seeking responses to the citizen petition--one day before Chatham County filed its own petition for declaratory ruling with EMC.
Julie Ventaloro, the state watershed program coordinator at DWQ, told the Indy following the division's approval of the survey in February that changing the maps is now “in Durham’s hands.” Following a 3-2 vote by the Durham County Board of Commissioners earlier this month, Durham must follow a state-mandated public hearing process before voting to adopt zoning map changes related to the survey, which was commissioned by a private developer who owned land within the affected area. Adopting the change would effectively move a 164-acre tract that was owned by the developer–and now slated for dense, mixed-use development–out of Jordan Lake’s critical watershed area, which severely limits development within one mile of major water supplies.