Mayor Charles Meeker opened yesterday's City Council meeting by discussing the Wake County Board of Commissioner's recent rejection of stricter development rules in the Little River Watershed. "It's not a situation where all is lost," Meeker told the council.
But he also said that it is not at all clear that adopting the minimum requirements in Little River will be adequate. Meeker proposed a 3-step plan to try to persuade county commissioners to reconsider their recent decision, which was unanimous.
Basically, the plan involves reminding Wake County folks of the years of cooperation between Raleigh and the county to get the Little River project this far; a discussion between City Manager Russell Allen and his county counterpart, David Cooke; and a meeting between the county commissioners and Meeker, Councilor James West and the mayors of Wake Forest and Garner.
What's striking about these steps is how easily they could have been taken before the county commissioners voted on the tougher restrictions.
All told, last week was a bad week for Raleigh's interests in the surrounding watersheds. In addition to the Little River vote, the state Environmental Management Commission last week issued the city a notice of violation for failing to adopt tougher rules in the Richland Creek Watershed in North Raleigh. (Scroll down to the 5th action item on the EMC's agenda.) The city now has 120 days to get in compliance. Getting in compliance means adopting stricter development rules that will impact 4,994 property owners located in Northeast Raleigh, including neighborhoods like Wakefield and Falls River. The rules would make it harder for those owners to add a deck or build an addition.
Raleigh has been trying to convince the state for four years that the tougher restrictions are not necessary, but their long struggle appears over. The new rules are designed to protect a possible source of drinking water on the Neuse River at the old Burlington Mills textile plant off Capital Boulevard. Nobody is using the water now, though Franklin County has expressed interest in tapping it.