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Facts About The RDU Quarry

RDU Airport Authority has leased 105 acres of land they own in between I-40 and Umstead Park to Wake Stone who currently operates a quarry that is adjacent to this land. Stef Mendell, Russ Stephenson, David Cox, Kay Crowder, and Charles Francis have made opposing this lease one of the largest parts of their campaigns for re-election/election to City Council. Here are 10 facts that they have not mentioned (to my knowledge) that need to be part of any consideration on this topic.

  1. The adjacent quarry land owned by Wake Stone is in the city limits of Cary (RDU land is not a part of any city). The tract of land that has been leased by the RDU Airport Authority is known as the Oddfellows tract which is 105 acres owned by RDU bordered by I-40, Umstead Park, a quarry operated by Wake Stone, and other RDU owned land. The approximate location is shown in red below and is labeled as “parcel 1” in the second image. 

  2. RDU has been planning to lease this parcel for industrial or quarry use for some time. RDU Vision 2040 was a planning process completed in 2017 after 2 years of gathering community input to plan for RDU’s growth over the next 2 decades. Part of their plan for funding this growth was by leasing this land. You can see on this informational pamphlet distributed in 2016 that this land was labeled for industrial/quarry use.

  3. RDU sent an RFP to their constituent municipalities (City of Raleigh, Wake County, City of Durham, and Durham County) on September 8, 2017. Wake County was the only one that expressed interest in this parcel but none submitted a proposal.

  4. RDU did solicit requests for proposals from other types of businesses (like a hotel) but many were not interested since the land would not be sold, only leased. The Wake Stone lease is for 25 years generating $20-25m for the airport. They also agreed to contribute $3.6m towards Wake County leasing an adjacent 151-acre parcel for recreational use and to redevelop their land into recreational land when their lease is completed. N&O Article

  5. Any recreational use of this land is currently considered trespassing but has not been enforced. Single-track mountain bikers have been using this land without permission because single-track riding is not allowed in Umstead Park.

  6. Members of City Council met with the Airport Authority last Fall and toured the property, no one asked any questions at that time. One City Council member, Dickie Thompson, is a member of the RDU Airport Authority appointed by Raleigh City Council. Stef Mendell has said on numerous occasions that she could not get a meeting with RDU to get her questions answered. However, she sits next to Dickie at every council meeting.

  7. On March 5, 2019 the News and Observer reported: City attorney Robin Currin told council members Tuesday that the city can’t prevent the lease from moving forward. “You don’t have any authority to stop it or change it,” she said. “There is nothing illegal about stating an opinion or making some sort of request.” If Raleigh leaders ask the Airport Authority to reconsider its position, Currin said it would be nothing “more than a political opinion.”

  8. Some council members now say that the attorney has said that they have legal standing to intervene in the lawsuit against the RDU Airport Authority. The attorney actually said they have the ability to ask a judge if they have standing to intervene. She did not offer any prediction of how a judge would rule. You can view the attorney's exact words in this video and go to 2:55:40 to see where the attorney begins to speak.

  9. The mining industry is heavily regulated by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Wake Stone has never gotten a single environmental violation. Jean Spooner, the Chair of the Umstead Coalition, wrote a letter praising Wake Stone for being a community citizen and taking environmental issues seriously in regards to the quarry that they currently operate next to Umstead Park.

  10. Raleigh is growing quickly and many development projects need the substrate mined from quarries like the one Wake Stone will operate here. The materials they mine are used in road construction and just about anything involving concrete. If we don’t have a quarry nearby, these materials have to be trucked (and in some cases shipped from China) to Raleigh. The environmental impact is much lower if we can use a source close to home rather than having to transport it long distances. Having a nearby quarry can also help keep construction prices down.

It seems to me that this is something that has been on the radar for quite some time now but some just see this as an issue that they can make political to help sway the election even though there is very little, if anything, they can do to change the outcome at this point. No matter your feelings about having a quarry on this land, this is a much more complicated issue than they will lead you to believe and your vote this October will not change the status of this lease that has already been executed. There are much more important issues facing Raleigh that the next city council CAN address that should determine who you are going to vote for.


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