The quarry no one wants appears to be moving forward–at least for now.
A superior court judge issued a ruling Friday night that the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority’s deal with Wake Stone Corporation to lease land outside of Umstead State Park for a quarry is legal. Environmental activists fighting the quarry plan to appeal the decision.
“It’s disappointing,” said Umstead Coalition chair Jean Spooner. “We still believe our case is strong and we expect to win on appeal.”
Umstead Coalition and Triangle Off-Road Cyclists sued the RDUAA earlier this year on the grounds that the board did not consult the four local governments that own the airport–Raleigh, Durham, Wake County and Durham County–before signing off on the deal. The contract allows Wake Stone to mine 105 acres outside the park for 30 years in exchange for $24 million in royalties(a figure Umstead Coalition claims is closer to $8).
The issue became a political football ahead of the Raleigh municipal election, with four incumbents advocating for the city to join the lawsuit, but proved a dud at the polls after all but councilor David Cox lost their bids for re-election.
In the ruling Friday, Shirley wrote: “RDUAA has the authority to enter into the lease with Wake Stone to operate a business that the authority finds advantageous or conducive to the development of the airport.”
“As a matter of law, RDUAA has the statutory authority independent of the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the counties of Wake and Durham to enter into the lease, and therefore, summary judgment in favor of the defendants is proper,” Shirley’s decision continued.
Spooner says they plan to file an appeal of the decision as soon as possible.
“A proposed quarry represents a real threat to the priceless asset we have in Umstead State Park,” Spooner said.
How is this a threat to Umstead? There’s already a quarry tucked away next to Umstead, and this new one also isn’t in Umstead.
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