New Hill settles complaint over planned sewage plant
Posted January 28, 2011 11:08 a.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2011 11:46 a.m. EST
New Hill, N.C. — Residents in the southwestern Wake County crossroads of New Hill have settled their lawsuit over a planned sewage plant in the community, officials said Friday.
Western Wake Partners, which includes Cary, Apex, Morrisville and part of Research Triangle Park, wants to build a $327 million wastewater treatment plant on more than 230 acres in New Hill. The plant would sit between U.S. Highway 1, Old U.S. 1, Shearon Harris Road and New Hill-Holleman Road.
The four towns pull water from Jordan Lake, and state officials have said wastewater needs to be returned to the Cape Fear River basin and should no longer be discharged into the Neuse River basin.
Environmental regulators have said the inter-basin transfers had to end by this month, but construction hasn't even started on the plant.
New Hill residents have fought the plan for years through public hearings and in the courts. Last fall, the New Hill Community Association contested a permit issued by the state Division of Water Quality, seeking an independent review of the situation.
Association members have maintained that New Hill was targeted for the sewage plant because its residents are mostly poor and black. Officials in Cary, the leading member of Western Wake Partners, have denied the allegation, saying New Hill was the best of more than 30 sites they reviewed.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented the community in the dispute, said Friday that the litigation has been settled.
Under the settlement, Western Wake Partners has agreed to finance construction of a $500,000 community center in New Hill, connect the center to the treatment plant for free and build to bus stops for local children.
The partnership previously agreed to to pay for water and sewer hook-ups for residents living near the plant.
"During the course of our efforts, our community has come together as never before, with neighbors becoming friends,” Rev. James Clanton, pastor of First Baptist Church New Hill and secretary of the community association, said in a statement. "These efforts will help mitigate impacts to our community."