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Builders Worry Water Woes Will Spur Building Ban

Posted February 12, 2008
Updated February 13, 2008

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— Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Tuesday that it is difficult to determine how much response is needed to address the drought.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Falls Lake, recently issued a forecast that suggested the lake, which is Raleigh's primary source of drinking water, would run dry this summer.

City Council Member Rodger Koopman wants the city to consider tougher restrictions at its meeting next Tuesday. The council voted last week to begin Stage 2 water restrictions this Friday.

With talk of even tougher restrictions, builders and developers are worried about a possible moratorium on development. The city has continued to issue hundreds of building permits throughout the drought.

"Should we stop construction on new development at least for a while while we figure out what's facing us?" Koopman said, is a question the City Council needs to consider.

Koopman said a building ban may be necessary if the levels at Falls Lake continue to drop.

"From a homebuilding standpoint, the word moratorium is something that makes us all shudder," said Dan Tingen, of Tingen Construction Co.

The Raleigh system serves the city and Rolesville, Zebulon, Wendell, Garner, Knightdale and Wake Forest. Last year, builders pulled more than 54,000 permits for new homes and businesses.

Raleigh had the most permits. A moratorium would put a halt to all new development in the city.

“We're now looking at the preservation of the economic viability of our region," Koopman said.

"Companies like mine that currently own lots, we've purchased lots with the expectations that we are going to be able to put homes on them and sell them. If you tell me I can't permit them, I'm essentially out of business," Tingen said.

Tingen said a building ban would not have an immediate impact on the drought because a new home can take up to eight months to build.

A report issued Tuesday indicated that the region has a 20 percent chance of escaping drought conditions in the coming months, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. The area would need 13 to 16 inches of rain by May or 22 to 26 inches by August to end the drought, he said.

A rainfall outlook from the National Weather Service predicted drier-than-normal conditions across the Southeast for the next three months, Fishel said.

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  • Gneiss One Feb 13, 2008

    How many of these boneheads in office have meteorological degrees or backgrounds??? They sure seem to know more than the National Weather Service, experienced meterologists and the Army Corps of Engineers. Mr Crisp is the smartest of the bunch saying that he is aware that we are experiencing the worst drought in 800 yrs and we are not out of water yet so we have managed to do a good job so far...LOL. DId he actually go on record with that statement? I guess none of these people live near Falls Lake b/c if they did it would be obviuos that we are drying up!!!! Even a 2 yr old can make that observation. There is a very large (and thirsty) elephant in the room. I am not on city water and don;t mean to be cruel but I hope the taps run dry! Up the dried up creek with a useless paddle and boat. Only then will it become a priority. Everyone will suffer, not just select industries. Hoping for a hurricane to solve the problem makes me think Dix Hill should not close just yet.

  • TechRescue Feb 13, 2008

    "In a couple of months when it starts raining a lot, the whole argument will be forgotten."

    That's the absolute truth, and the real danger..

    And then, 5 years from now, the situation will be worse, and still no one will have done anything.

    Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. When the politicians are talking in 2012 about how they could not have foreseen a water shortage, remember that the intelligence of our elected officials is a reflection of the intelligence of the people who put them there.

  • peacebee Feb 13, 2008

    In a couple of months when it starts raining a lot, the whole argument will be forgotten.

  • Why Is My Slim Physique Envied Feb 13, 2008

    Two choices: 1) Water or 2) New homes...tough decision but I think I will go with the H2O that nourishes my body and allows me to live. What is there to debate?

  • They call me CATMAN Feb 13, 2008

    IF YOU HAD NO WAY TO PROVIDE POWER TO HOUSES BEING BUILT YOU WOULD NOT BUILD THEM WHY IS WATER ANY DIFFERENT. wERE NOT SYING NO MORE BUILDING JUST STOP IT UNTIL WE CAN FIND A SOURCE OF WATER FOR THE LONG RUN. ALSO THEIR ARE A GLUT OF PREOWNED HOMES IN THIS AREA LETS MAKE THEM MORE PRESENTABLE TO A HOME BUYER. WHY MUST WE FILL EVERY PIECE OF LAND.

  • nisa-pizza Feb 13, 2008

    The almighty dollar is what is keeping these building permits flowing. If you've noticed the drought isn't mentioned much if not at all when these polls about the "The Best City to..." with the Raleigh Durham area mentioned.

    It's time to slow everything down. It probably won't be like this forever but common sense needs to come into play with some of these money grubbers.

    People in the green industries need to stock drought resistant plants. Builders need to stop building for the greater good. If you work construction you may have to go where people need rebuilding (Katrina states, areas hit by disasters) or development. You may have to plan accordingly or find other kinds of work.

    Go to places where they need your craft and send the money home. I know it's easier said than done but at this point people's very lives may be in the balance by years end or sooner.

    If we think things like crime are ugly now, we ain't seen nothin' til the water's all but gone.

  • Space Mountain Feb 13, 2008

    I already have a home and I am from the area. I'm not a builder or a transplant. So, frankly, I don't care about the builders whining. We need water before we need new homes. The area is already crowded enough. We don't need more people moving here. The price of housing has already gone up so much in the area because of all the transplants that people who grew up here can't afford to buy a house here now.

  • dogmama Feb 13, 2008

    Stopping permits should have been an OBVIOUS action while we are out of water. Why does it take so long for politicians to catch on to common sense concepts.

  • Space Mountain Feb 13, 2008

    Oh well, too bad.

  • Ken D. Feb 13, 2008

    Just think what our water supply situation will look like in 10 years. We're not getting any smaller.

    Obviously, we need tighter restrictions immediately to deal with an imminent crisis. When County Commissioners come to us in the future asking for tax increases or bond authorizations or both to build a new reservoir, let's not have our usual knee-jerk "no new taxes" reaction.

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