From The New Hill Community Association and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice vow to fight a proposed waste management plant in the New Hill community, despite the Army Corps of Engineers recent approval.
The New Hill Community Association and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice vow to fight a proposed waste management plant in the New Hill community, despite the Army Corps of Engineers recent approval.
New Hill vows to fight plant
Residents say there are better sites
By Paul A. Specht, Staff Writer
Ruby Mann has lived in New Hill since she was born 73 years ago. She remembers playing in the creek and breathing in the clean air in the field behind her house on Garris Road. It was a good way to cool off after the days she spent picking tobacco for the farmer just up the street.
But the field –and perhaps the fresh air –may soon give way to a wastewater treatment plant. “I don’t like it, but there isn’t anything I can do about it,” she said.
New Hill residents vowed to fight the plant, which won a key approval last week. The $327 million plant would serve Cary, Apex, Morrisville and Holly Springs. The towns have been planning the facility since 2004.
The project was intended to help the towns comply with a state environmental mandate, directed at Cary, Apex and Morrisville, to return water to the Cape Fear River basin and to keep pace with the towns’ rapidly-growing populations.
On Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final environmental approval for the site. The 85-page document endorses the site as the one that will have the smallest negative environmental impact, despite being near wetlands.
It was considered a big victory for the towns.
On Monday, New Hill leaders rejected the decision and vowed to fight against it.
“There are better places with less human impact to put this plant,” the Rev. James Clanton, pastor of the First Baptist Church New Hill, said in a prepared statement.
“We ask the Western Wake Partners to reconsider dumping on poor communities of color and find a better solution.”
In the statement, Clanton and representatives from the New Hill Community Group and Southern Coalition for Social Justice claimed that there are more suitable places to built the plant.
They complained that noise, odor, traffic and light from the project will negatively impact the New Hill Historic District. They said the decision never fully considered alternatives to the Cape Fear River discharge point.
The decision “disregards the procedural, environmental, and racial issues raised in public comments,” Chris, Brook, a lawyer at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in the statement.
Brook, in an interview last week, indicated that a lawsuit could be forthcoming.
He and Paul Barth, president of the New Hill Community Association, declined to discuss the legal strategy.
Barth said his group may also appeal “environmental justice issues” through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Until the concrete is poured, we’re not going to quit,” Barth said.
The towns now will seek several state permits for the project covering aspects such as transportation, air quality and construction. If approved quickly, the plant could be built by the end of 2013.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s been some ill will, but I think the appropriate decision has been made in this case,” Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said. “The Army Corps of Engineers has left no stone unturned to investigate the concerns of the residents down there. … Everybody obviously could not be satisfied with the outcome, but I think everybody should at least be satisfied with the process.”
Ruby Mann and her husband Willie, 69, have lived in their Garris Road house for 45 years. The fight reminds them of when the Shearon Harris nuclear plant was built down the road.
“We knew it was going to happen,” Willie Mann said. “But there isn’t anybody who’s happy about it.”
The Manns say they don’t have money to move. “We have to smell it, breathe it, and have no fresh air,” he said.
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Source: The Cary News