I wrote to you back in March about the flooding we are experiencing here in Heritage Hills and southern Orange County. I want to let you know that your Stormwater staff has kindly agreed to conduct an education session for the homeowners out here on tactics we can use to reduce the flooding.
But I also want to let you know that many of us are seriously concerned about how much worse the flooding might get if you give Chapel Hill your approval for extending the Water and Sewer Boundary Management Plan from Southern Village down to the Chatham County line. Flooding, as you know, comes from water not having anywhere to filter down into the soil. When watersheds are built up--replacing drainage areas with impervious surfaces--flooding is one of the consequences, even when stormwater management areas are planned.
The bulk of the area to be covered by the proposed WASMBPA expansion lies within a protected Watershed IV, nutrient sensitive water protection area (NSWP), but a portion here at the southern end of the area, is in a protected Watershed II-NSWP. Currently the low density (12% impervious surface) zoning restrictions apply but the town could choose to upzone to 70% impervious surface using the stormwater controls they have put in place elsewhere in town. The NSWP classification puts into place higher standards for controlling nitrogen and phosphorus (nutrient) runoff.
This is a complicated issue. When the town planner presented it to the Council last week, she said "This is only a proposal to modify WASMBPA and nothing else." But we all know that is a disingenuous statement. There would be no purpose in expanding WASMBPA if not to rezone for denser development. By the town's own admission, they want to add multifamily development in the 12-acre tract they own that abuts Fan Branch Creek.
Before you consider giving your approval on the WASMBPA expansion I hope you will insist on an enforceable small area plan for the ~380 acres that fall within this expansion area. Such a plan, with input by current residents, will let us focus on the real vs anticipated threats to the property of those who already live in this area and the potential impact denser development could have on University Lake and Jordan Lake drinking water.
This decision should not be treated as a race but rather as a thoughtful process that reviews the historical planning processes from positions informed by the most current science. If after thoughtful, informed consideration of the impacts and benefits this modification might have, the decision weighs toward benefit, I will support that decision.