Local News

Push to preserve water resources could hurt development

Posted July 18, 2008 6:42 p.m. EDT
Updated July 18, 2008 9:05 p.m. EDT

— Sam Kim has visions of one day building a larger deck on his home, but the Raleigh homeowner says he's not sure that vision will ever become a reality.

"I'm going to have to go through a lot of red tape and possibly have to wait a long time before I can do anything," he said.

Kim and other property owners near the Neuse River say they're not sure what the future has in store. They live in an area protected by the state as the watershed of a potential drinking water source.

The state has given Raleigh four months to change the zoning of the Neuse watershed near the old Burlington Mills plant off Capital Boulevard to protect the river's water quality. Some say that could make future property additions more difficult.

The state has designated the river as a water supply and wants the new rules to limit stormwater runoff from rooftops and driveways because the runoff is considered pollution.

City leaders say about 5,000 homeowners living in an area bounded by N.C. Highway 98 and Durant Road on the north and south, respectively, and Falls of Neuse Road on the west and Capital Boulevard on the east would be affected. The area includes Wakefield Plantation, Bedford at Falls River and Falls River neighborhoods.

"No one who lives in that area wants these additional restrictions," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said. "It's highly unlikely that water will ever be taken from that area of the Neuse River."

The area in question has been a hotbed of political activity for years. Raleigh doesn't want any communities to get water there. Some have expressed interest – most recently, Franklin County.

"The (more development you have, the) more runoff you have from rooftops and parking lots and streets – you have fertilizers and pet waste all running off into the river," said Dean Naujoks, with the Upper Neuse River Foundation.

Chuck Arkell, who runs a kayak shop along the Neuse River, agrees more development would hurt it.

"This stretch of the Neuse is traditionally the cleanest part of the river," he said. "It's impacted pretty heavily by storm water runoff from the development."

Homeowners like Kim say they hope a happy medium – keeping the river clean without having an impact on properties – is reached.