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In 7-page letter, DEQ wants more answers about Wake Stone’s plan to mine next to Umstead State Park

Wake Stone has proposed building a controversial mine on the 105-acre Odd Fellows Tract next to Umstead State Park. (Map: Umstead Coalition)

The proposed Wake Stone mine in Raleigh has encountered another setback as state environmental regulators have returned the company’s application because it lacked key information.

In a seven-page letter dated July 23, the NC Department of Environmental Quality asked for key data:

  • the amount of air and noise pollution from blasting;
  • the potential for light pollution because of nighttime work;
  • the effects of a proposed bridge over Crabtree Creek on water quality, wildlife and endangered species;
  • how the overburden — or unusable material — will be disposed of;
  • and multiple design specifications for the pit that were not in the permit application.

As important, though, are questions of whether the RDU Airport Authority, which is leasing the 105 acres to Wake Stone, can legally do so. The cities of Raleigh and Durham, and Wake and Durham counties hold the deed to the land, but tax maps show that the Airport Authority owns it.

Opponents of the project have consistently argued that the Airport Authority hasn’t the legal right to lease the land.

DEQ also requested information about whether the project is receiving any public money “or other assistance,” and if more than 10 acres of public land is within proposed mine.

The property is known as the “Odd Fellows tract,” and lies adjacent to Umstead State Park, as well as two homes along Old Reedy Creek Road.  Wake Stone proposes to timber the land and then on at least 45 acres, blast a pit 40 stories deep to extract the minerals, crush them and sell the material for road-building and other uses. The mining could continue for at least 25 years.

Hundreds of people have commented on the proposal, most of them in opposition. In June the turnout for a virtual public hearing was so high that DEQ opted to hold a second one.

The proposed fence perimeter that DEQ rejected this week (Map: RDU)

Earlier this week DEQ rejected the Airport Authority’s request to build an 8-foot fence around its property, which cuts through Umstead State Park, ostensibly to prevent trespassing. State environmental officials said the fence would violate riparian buffer rules. The state Division of Parks also opposed the fence, calling it a “permanent eyesore.” Officials said it would not only diminish park visitors’ experience but also block crucial wildlife corridors.

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In 7-page letter, DEQ wants more answers about Wake Stone’s plan to mine next to Umstead State Park