Jordan Lake Hearing Wrapup

The public hearing about proposed Jordan Lake rules in Carrboro tonight was pretty fascinating. A wide variety of perspectives were represented to say the least.

First things first- Orange/Chatham Group Conservation Chair Judith Ferster did an outstanding job representing the Sierra Club on the issue. We were also lucky to have a former OCG ExCom member, Marsha Stephens, give some great comments on behalf of the New Hope Group of the Audubon Society. Sierrans Ed Harrison and Sally Greene gave a ringing endorsement of the rules in their roles as Chapel Hill Town Council members, as did Sierra endorsed Chatham County Commissioner George Lucier. Thanks to all these great speakers.

They sure had some opposition though! The sprawl lobby was out in force with numerous representatives of home builder and developer organizations present and expressing their strong opposition to the rules.

You'll be heartened to know though that these folks weren't against the rules because they were afraid they would hurt their profit margins.

Nope, they said they were against the rules because it would hurt their ability to provide affordable housing and because they weren't sure they would really help clean the lake.

If their idea of providing affordable housing is that the $600,000 houses they're building in the watershed in Chatham County might cost $602,000 now maybe they're right.

If their idea of environmental protection is to discard all the proposed rules and allow conditions to remain as they are in a watershed that has been classified impaired for ten years and redo a rulemaking process that has already taken an eternity, then maybe they're right.

The proposed rules are not perfect. The Sierra Club would like to see some changes itself, and some of the speakers tonight made some reasonable suggestions for how they could be improved.

But the complete disingenuousness of the sprawl lobby in expressing its opposition to the rules was frankly appalling. I would have had a lot more respect for them if they had just come right out and said they opposed the rules because they were concerned about an adverse impact on their profit margins.

So there were plenty of folks representing environmental groups there pushing their interests and there were plenty of people representing sprawl lobby groups there pushing their interests. Hopefully the Sierra Club's position was heard loud and clear.

What was heartening about the hearing was what the folks who don't meet either of those descriptions had to say.

Folks who use the lake for recreation said it needed to be cleaned up. Folks who drink water from the lake said it needed to be cleaned up.

And then there were the folks who in some sense met both descriptions. One gentleman said he was a realtor and a Sierra Club member and expressed his strong support of the rules. A builder, Bert Gurganus, also outlined the importance of their being enacted.

I hope the EMC listened hard to what those in between had to say.

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