RDU Airport Gets North Carolina State Permit for Fence Near Umstead Park
Raleigh-Durham International Airport has received a state environmental permit it needs to build a security fence near William B. Umstead State Park, although it is not known when construction might to start.
RDU says he needs the eight-foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire to prevent off-road bikers and others from breaking into his property off Old Reedy Creek Road. Airport officials say the trails, jumps and obstacles cyclists have built through the woods are legal liability for the airport and have degraded the waterways on the property.
The six-mile fence is among several projects RDU has put on hold after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated air travel and airport revenues. At the end of 2019, RDU officials estimated that building the fence would cost $ 2.4 million.
Airport authority staff will decide when to submit a draft construction contract to RDU’s board of directors, spokeswoman Stephanie Hawco said.
“The perimeter fence is one of many important projects that the Authority will prioritize to resume passenger traffic,” Hawco wrote in an email.
Opponents of the fence say it is not necessary, because existing fences keep people away from runways and other parts of the airport, and will cause more damage to the environment than it does. would not prevent it. The airport plans to cut and maintain a clear area of ââ10 to 30 feet along the fence that it can use for maintenance.
Jean Spooner, head of the Umstead Coalition, the park’s advocacy group, calls the fence project “an embarrassment and insult to our community” and to the park. Spooner said the Airport Authority should find a solution supported by the public.
“Sadly, it is the opposite,” Spooner wrote in an email Wednesday. “We demand that the RDUAA Board of Directors end this blow to community relations at the airport.”
Much of the fence will follow the western border of Umstead State Park. The state’s Parks and Recreation Division has spoken out against the barrier, saying it will hamper the movement of wildlife, help introduce invasive plant species and reduce water quality in the streams of the Park.
The fence will force Umstead to reroute a section of the decades-old Reedy Creek Multi-Use Trail where it makes a 45-degree turn near the airport. This turn is actually on airport property and the fence would cross the trail in two places.
John Fullwood, the former acting director of state parks, also argued that the miles of chain link and barbed wire would cause less tangible damage to Umstead.
“By creating a permanent horror along the park boundary and altering the look and ‘feel’ of the park, the proposed fence would greatly undermine a fundamental purpose of the park, namely to provide public access to a natural setting for that people can enjoy nature and improve their physical and mental health, âFullwood wrote in a letter to the state’s Water Resources Division in January.
RDU gets the license it needs
Last summer, the Water Resources Division rejected RDU’s request to build the fence, saying it violated rules to protect water quality in the Neuse basin. But RDU changed its application and tried again.
On Tuesday, the agency issued a permit allowing RDU to build the fence through riparian buffer zones around streams and wetlands covered by the Neuse rules. Once built, the permit only allows foot traffic along the fence and prohibits RDU from using chemicals to control vegetation. Where the fence crosses streams, the RDU will need to construct gates that it can open whenever flooding rain is forecast, to prevent leaves and debris from being trapped.
Hawco, the RDU spokeswoman, said the airport did not need an additional permit to begin construction.
Originally, RDU proposed to build a section of the fence of approximately 105 acres which it leased for a quarry on the east side of Old Reedy Creek Road. RDU removed this fence from its second request.
In announcing the approval of the permit, the State Department of Environmental Quality noted that the decision does not indicate whether it will allow Wake Stone Corp. to build the rock quarry. Another DEQ agency, the Energy, Mineral Resources and Land Division, is still reviewing the company’s request to create a 400-foot-deep surface mine between Old Reedy Creek Road and its existing quarry off the coast of North Harrison Avenue.