Riverkeeper Report: Updates on proposed developments along Neuse

Environmental, Regulatory, Sound Rivers

Posted on October 13th, 2022

Lick Creek after a rain.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop has been keeping up with the zoning for new developments being proposed along the Neuse River. Here are the latest updates:

  • On Monday, Oct. 17, the Durham City Council will take a vote on the Kemp Road Subdivision — a proposal to convert 287 acres of forested land along Lick Creek into subdivided townhomes. Your Neuse Riverkeeper has been actively sampling water quality on Lick Creek after local residents sounded the alarm about sediment pouring off of under-regulated developments in the area, making the creek run red after rainstorms. The Durham County Planning Board previously voted unanimously against this development proposal, citing impacts to water quality in Lick Creek as a major concern. However, it is now up to Durham City Council to make the final decision on whether to convert this parcel of old forest along Lick Creek into more than 650 townhomes. Sound Rivers is concerned that paving over this large swath of undeveloped, creekside forest will contribute more sedimentation pollution in an already impaired Lick Creek.  Help us stand up for Lick Creek and advocate for responsible development in Durham County. Learn more about how to submit your comments to Durham City Council.
  • On Tuesday Oct. 18, two Johnston County developments that Sound Rivers has been tracking are coming up again for a vote before the Planning Board. The Helen Stephenson Tract proposal would put 38 homes on the same property as an abandoned hog-waste lagoon that has never been properly closed out. Your Neuse Riverkeper previously testified that paving this greenspace would result in dumping more stormwater into the wetlands where the lagoon remains, and lead to potential bacterial pollution in the nearby Black Creek, a tributary of the Neuse. The Planning Board previously denied this proposal in May, and there is currently an open DEQ investigation into this waste lagoon and what steps are necessary to properly close it out. Despite these lingering questions, the developer reintroduced the proposal to the Planning Board for another vote scheduled for the 18th.
  • The second development coming before the Johnston County Planning Board on Oct. 18 was also previously denied at their May hearing. This proposal would convert 79 acres of agricultural land on Grabtown Road into townhomes in an already heavily developing area in the Polecat Branch sub-watershed of the Neuse. We are concerned about impacts on flooding and water quality that this development would have on two adjacent tributaries that meet up with the Neuse River not far downstream. We would like to see the developer do more to retain greenspace, protect large streamside buffers and plan for flooding in this already impacted area. After dozens of community members and our Neuse Riverkeeper gave strong comments, the Johnston County Planning Board denied this development back in May, but this proposal is once being reintroduced for a decision. Learn more about the upcoming Johnston County Planning Board and how you can participate and comment on these two developments of concern.

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