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State Fair is cited for environmental violations relating to controversial parking lots

State Fair is cited for environmental violations relating to controversial parking lots

State Fair cited for environmental violations related to controversial parking lot

 

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture It has been citedAccording to environmental documents, there were four water quality violations arising from the clear-cutting 19 acres for a State Fair parking area. The fair is managed by the Agriculture Department.

Policy Watch reportedState Fair officials used legal loopholes last September to timber the land at Chapel Hill Road in Raleigh. It borders the Westover-Mt. Vernon neighborhood.

David Smith, deputy agricultural commissioner from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, received a November 2021 note from them describing how, on Oct. 4, inspectors discovered that 10 feet of an unnamed stream was illegally filled with dirt or rock.

Richland Creek is fed by the unnamed stream, which flows into the Neuse river. Richland Creek is considered Nutrient Sensitive Water, meaning that it is susceptible to contaminants from runoff.

To protect the Neuse River Basin’s riparian buffers, waterways must be subject to special rules. They are 50 feet each side of a stream.

The fill was part of an illegally constructed plastic culvert.

DEQ had not paid the State Fair compensatory mitigation fees for legal damage to buffers measuring two-thirds of an inch. This money was due to DEQ prior to any land disturbance. DEQ didn’t provide an exact dollar amount by deadline. Rates will vary depending on the type and watershed of impacts.

An email asking for more information was not returned by the Department of Agriculture.

A spokesperson for DEQ said that the agency is still waiting to verify that the notice of violation was received by the agriculture department. The record does not show that the Agriculture Department has paid mitigation fees.

Parking lot for the State Fair A $30 million project.Land deal between Bandwidth,A publicly traded tech company, and NC Department of Administration.

Bandwidth purchased property owned by DOA at Edwards Mill Road and Reedy Creek Road for its headquarters. Bandwidth and its developer agreed to remove thousands of parking spaces from the State Fair’s land. Athens Development Partners,According to the purchase contract, the parties agreed to increase parking capacity for the Fair and to improve its function.

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Athens Development Partners was a collaboration between East West Partners (West Partners) and Capitol Broadcasting. The parking lot was paid for and the land cleared. State Fair parking lot is still owned by the Department of Agriculture. It applied for and received both federal and state water quality permits. That’s why the Agriculture Department was cited, and not East West Partners, according to the DEQ spokesperson.

A DEQ inspector returned to the site on Oct. 12, the day before 2021 State Fair began. He was accompanied by a representative of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps had granted the project a federal license. DEQ had received a call on Oct. 11 from East West Partners, “self-reporting” that it had illegally filled 200 linear feet of stream with two to three feet of sediment, documents show. This amount of sediment would likely kill any aquatic animals that were buried beneath.

Another 130 feet of buffer zone had been filled with sediment and gravel, three-inch deep, also a violation.

Two days after the State Fair was over, the plastic culvert was removed. State documents said that workers were removing sediment.

DEQ told Smith in the letter that all sediment and gravel had to be removed from streams and buffers with “shovels and buckets” — not heavy equipment. The Agriculture Department is responsible in ensuring that restorations take place, including erosion control and reseeding.

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