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Bill addressing river buffers, bike lanes clears NC Senate

Posted June 15, 2015

— A bill addressing overgrown weeds, river basin buffers and bike lanes has cleared the North Carolina Senate with more changes that have many Democrats and environmentalists unhappy.

Senators voted largely along party lines Monday night for the measure, which Senate Republicans have reworked and expanded greatly since it initially passed the House.

An amendment by bill manager Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, broadened vegetative buffer restrictions to more rivers than the full Senate considered last week. The amendment also changed how to calculate coastal wetland and marsh lengths. Buffers help protect waterways from pollution.

Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, unsuccessfully tried to beat back Wade's amendment, calling it "a disaster for clean water in North Carolina" because it would enable developers to strip all natural vegetation from every river bank in the state, replacing it with 30 yards of grass.

Wade said research has showed the natural vegetation isn't always the best filter for runoff.

The amendment also limited when a municipality can convert existing paved road lanes to bike lanes.

The bill now returns to the House, which must decide to accept or reject Senate changes.

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