Water quality handed another loss by Durham council

Neuse River Watershed, Stormwater Runoff, Water Quality

Posted on March 7th, 2024

A photo taken Aug. 31 by Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop shows Martin Branch inundated with eroded sediment from the Sweetbrier site.

Durham City Council dealt another blow to water quality this week, when they voted to rezone 87 acres along Martin Branch to make way for another development.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop spoke out against the proposal during the public comment period of the meeting, citing the research she has done and the data that speaks to the ongoing impairment of waterways in the Lick Creek watershed.

“Even if you disregard the science, which speaks for itself, this proposal and the many others the council has approved recently does not align with Durham’s comprehensive plan to trade suburban sprawl for walkable, sustainable communities,” Samantha said.

Sam wasn’t the only person who attended the meeting to urge the council to slow down Durham development.

“The other speakers actually presented the data we have provided on our website and shared our aerial images of Falls Lake and Lick Creek,” Samantha said. “They did a great job presenting our research. By the time I got up there to speak, I just had to hammer it home.”

Despite the concerns raised, the vote was 4-2 in favor of approving the Olive Branch Reserve North proposal. The council also dismissed the unanimous recommendation the Durham City-County Planning Commission made last month to decline rezoning this tract for development — a repeat of Durham City Council approving the 280-acre, Perry Farms development against the recommendation of the commission late last year.

“These are massive developments in the Lick Creek watershed where we have been doing 18 months of water-quality sampling and documenting severe turbidity violations,” Sam said. “We have some strong allies on the council, but for some, cookie-cutter homes on the ground outweigh the costs of environmental harm.”

Listen to some of Sam’s comments below:

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