Lick Creek: Durham Council to vote on another large development

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Stormwater Issues, Water Quality

Posted on May 16th, 2024

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop in the Lick Creek watershed on a recent sampling outing.

The Durham City Council will be considering rezoning more than 200 acres to make way for another housing development.

Monday night, councilmembers will address the proposed Virgil Road Assemblage, and Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop is encouraging the community to speak up about environmental impacts.

“This roughly 200-acre proposal is in a heavily degraded part of the Lick Creek watershed. It contains nine mapped perennial and intermittent creeks and at least six wetlands,” Sam said. “Several of these waterways flow into Martin Branch, the most severely polluted creek in terms of turbidity that we have documented in the entire Lick Creek watershed, and the most sediment polluted creek that I have documented in all of the Neuse watershed.”

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop takes a turbidity sample in Martin Branch.

The remaining creeks flow into Rocky Branch which, for the past two years, Sam has been using as a reference site to compare with other creeks impacted by land-clearing and sediment runoff. Rocky Branch has remained clear, but that would change with the proposed development, Sam said.

“As it stands, this developer is only offering the minimum when it comes to riparian buffers. Durham code requires that 100-foot buffers be used on perennial streams in this part of the watershed, but any proposal here, in this extremely sensitive and degraded location, should go far above and beyond the baseline to protect our waterways,” she said. “Additionally, most of the tree preservation areas are sited within the mandatory riparian buffers, which is utilizing a loophole allowing developers to double count the trees that are required to remain on the landscape. Essentially, this proposal is more of the same heavy handed suburban sprawl that we have seen popping up in the Lick Creek watershed.”

The meeting will be held 7 p.m. Monday, May 20, in the First Floor Council Chambers at 101 City Hall Plaza.

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