All posts filed under: current stories

Save RDU Forest issue: RDU gets $49.5 million in coronavirus relief funding. Public hearing on quarry set for June 23

Raleigh-Durham International Airport has received $49.5 million in federal funding for the coronavirus crisis. Airport CEO Michael Landguth said in a news release that the money will help the airport stay afloat. “The CARES Act provides relief to airports at a time when revenue has dropped to unsustainable levels,” Landguth said. “The federal funding combined with our ‘survival budget’ will help RDU keep the lights on and financially stable during this unprecedented time in our industry.” RDU’s board approved the funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on May 1. The boost comes to RDU as the proposed quarry on the 105-acre Odd Fellows tract by William B. Umstead Park goes to public comment. In March 2019, over the protests of local residents and the Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves the park, RDU leased the property to Morrisville-based Wake Stone Corp. to mine for $24 million in royalties over 35 years. On April 8, Wake Stone applied for a mining permit on the tract. Park supporters have said …

The Durham City Council has been busy during the lockdown! Part 3: Affordable housing gets $4.5 million

The Durham City Council is earmarking $4.5 million to help fund three projects on affordable housing, with one major development in the downtown area. That is a new apartment building proposed by Self-Help Credit Union called Ashton Place Apartments, estimated to cost $10 million. Planned for 310 Jackson St., adjacent to the Durham Station, Ashton Place will have 51 apartments available to residents who are at or above 55 years old, with income at or below 60 percent of area median income, according to Self-Help. The project is being co-developed by Self-Help and Raleigh-based DHIC Inc., or Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation. The two organizations are also co-developing the Willard Street Apartments, which will have 82 affordable apartments when it is slated to open in 2021. Jenny Shields, spokeswoman for Self-Help, said in an e-mail this week that the project is dependent on the award of the low-income housing tax credit by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. “While the Durham City Council has approved $1.8 million to support this project, those funds will only be expended …

The Durham City Council has been busy during the lockdown! Part 2: Council approves $7.7 million in road improvement projects

Durham is moving ahead with about $7.7 million in road improvement projects, including $3 million for work on manholes. That includes an additional $1.1 million for the West Club Boulevard utility project that will cover the Ninth Street area up to West Club Boulevard, increasing the project to a total of $1.9 million. The council also approved $1.6 million for street repairs and repaving in 2020, and a combined $3 million for a comprehensive Manhole Rehabilitation Project. The city council approved these projects at their April to May meetings. According to Jennifer Smart, spokeswoman for the Department of Water Management, the Manhole Rehabilitation project will cover 1,550 manholes throughout the city. Workers will spray a cement liner to the inside of the manholes to provide structural support and seal up leaky spots. The comprehensive project is split into north and south portions. Work is slated to begin in June and is expected to wrap up in seven months for the north portion, and one year for south. Smart said in an e-mail this week that …

Chapel Hill’s Design Commission petitioning Town Council for more control over downtown changes

Starting in February, passersby on Franklin Street might have noticed a new structure going up on the roof of the building that houses Sutton’s Drug Store. That is a nightclub. According to plans filed with Chapel Hill town planners, it will be called “StillLife Nightclub.” The owner of the building, 144 Properties LLC, wants to build an open-air bar overlooking Franklin Street. Site plans were approved in May 2019. Although Sutton’s Drug Store has been open since 1923, and the two-story Strowd Building at 159 E. Franklin St. is on the National Register of Historic Places, the plans did not have to go through the Historic District Commission or the Community Design Commission, or get a special use permit. So Chapel Hill’s Community Design Commission is petitioning the town council for better control over the changes that happen in downtown. The commission discussed the first draft of the petition at its April 27 meeting. “Nobody is reviewing buildings,” said Design Commission member Susan Lyons at the meeting. Lyons drafted the petition along with member Chris …

Save RDU Forest issue: Opponents of quarry and State Sen. Wiley Nickel request public hearing, or a delay until they can be held

The efforts of opponents to a proposed quarry next to William B. Umstead Park have attracted the support of Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel of Wake County, who recently expressed concerns about Wake Stone Corp.’s mining permit application because of the difficulties surrounding public hearings during the coronavirus crisis.

“Public hearings are an imperative part of permitting procedures. They allow the public a chance to react to plans for new development and raise awareness of potentially disastrous environmental or social impacts,” Nickel said in a recent news release. “On April 8, in the midst of an international public crisis, Wake Stone Corp. filed a mining permit application request… .”

Some local strawberry farms have stopped growing strawberries. Why?

Around this time of year, Whitted Bowers Farm, an organic and biodynamic farm in Cedar Grove, usually would have rows of strawberries planted, with their varieties written out on signs. There would be baskets at their small shop, ready for people to pick into. But like some farms in the area, Whitted Bowers has stopped growing strawberries. Three years ago was when they stopped their staple. Why? The weather has been too wet and too bruising – literally, for tender strawberries. “A lot of things have to go right over the course of a season to get a strawberry crop,” said Rob Whitted, who co-owns the farm with his wife, Cheri Bowers. “If you’re lucky enough to get fruit sometime in mid- to late-April, then you’re hoping it doesn’t rain for a month. If you get one of those three inches of rain periods, they’re basically gone.” According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, which is headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina experienced its wettest five-year period from 2014 to 2018, with an average of …