Positive Outcome in Crescent's Lake James Rezoning Request
Conservation Coalition (including CRF), working since last September, successfully challenge major zoning changes on Lake James in hopes of preserving the progress made by the 2004 Conservation District Development Plan
Development areas of Lake James, throughout which Crescent originally sought changes to zoning that would have been detrimental to the lake.
In 2004, a multi-year battle of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (at the time, simply Catawba River Foundation) and other conservation groups against Crescent Resources (then still part of Duke Power) on Lake James ultimately led to a Conservation District Development Plan, which received national praise and included vested rights for Crescent (meaning, zoning was locked in and wouldn't change). This Plan also led to the development of the new Lake James State Park.
This past summer, Crescent Communities (now spun off from Duke) proposed a blitzkrieg of zoning changes that would have significantly compromised the years of efforts to keep Lake James a pristine gem and fine example of well thought-out zoning. Throughout the various undeveloped areas of the lake, the proposed rezoning changes called for smaller minimum lot sizes, decreased buffers and other changes that would have created significant problems with sediment, storm water, sewer, resources, boater safety, and overall overcrowding, to name a few facets.
After countless revisions, discussions, and negotiations, we have a great outcome for the 1780 area ("County Line" on the map) that will minimize lake impacts. Much credit is due to the other members of the Conservation Coalition: George and Suzy Johnson (Lake James Environmental Association), DJ Gerken and Patrick Hunter (Southern Environmental Law Center), Susie Hamrick Jones (Foothills Conservancy), Squeak Smith (Trout Unlimited) and the South Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club.
This Conservation Coalition, along with the work of the residents of 1780, is a prime example of the impact that can be had through collective, coordinated involvement with the individual company and local government. Such rezoning changes could be proposed for other areas Crescent still has, and this framework will have us prepared.
A statement that was read at the Burke County Commission meeting last night follows:
CONSERVATION COALITION STATEMENT
BURKE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS’ MEETING – 5/20/14
The decision to support this rezoning request involved 9-months of constructive discussions and negotiations among Crescent Communities, 1780 property owners, five conservation/environmental organizations1 and members of the Burke County Planning & Development Department. All sought to protect the lake and have a continued successful development in 1780.
Crescent’s willingness to drop proposals that could not be supported and make modifications to address other concerns brought us to the point where, this evening, the Conservation Coalition fully supports rezoning of the 1780 Low Density Tract as presented in the Development Standards document, dated May 7, 2014.2
We express our appreciation to all who worked together to achieve this positive outcome.
The Conservation Coalition
1 Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina
Lake James Environmental Association
South Mountains Chapter Sierra Club
Table Rock Chapter Trout Unlimited
2 “Low Density Conservation District Parallel Conditional Zoning District and Estate Lot
Conservation District Parallel Conditional Zoning District Development Standards”