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Hoke County Subdivision Faces Wetland Woes

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HOKE COUNTY — As North Carolina continues to grow, developers have less land to develop. In Hoke County, some residents say new construction is threatening their homes and the environment.

The Quail Hollow East subdivision looks like many others going up in the area, but with one difference. The subdivision has a three-acre swamp on the property.

Right around dusk Tuesday, the Elkins family heard water rushing toward their property. The water came from a subdivision next door. A subcontractor was temporarily draining an area using a deep, quarter-mile trench.

Homeowner Tommy Elkins built his own retaining wall in addition to one put up by the subcontractor.

"We've been concerned about the runoff here in this area from the beginning," Elkins says. "You take 18 inches of running water, it's gonna cut a major ditch."

The subcontractor plugged up the trench soon after the Elkins complained.

The subdivision raises an interesting question. Should the area be considered a wetland or an environmentally-sensitive area subject to government regulations?

An engineer for the developer says he followed the correct procedure in getting the area checked.

"The developer did hire a local soil scientist that gave him assurance that area was not wet and was not classified wetlands," says project engineer Bob Bennett.

However, an earlier map of the property indicates it has wetlands. State regulators want the federal government to investigate.

"We had staff on site today and talked with the principals here and came away with some concerns," says Ernie Seneca of theNorth Carolina Division of Water Quality.

The Army Corps of Engineers will visit the site next week. Even if there are wetlands, that does not necessarily mean the developer will face any fines.


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