For the motion: Cox, Crowder, Mendell, Stephenson
Against the motion: Stewart, McFarlane, Branch, Thompson
March 1, 2019, the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board (“RDUAA”) voted to approve a lease with Wake Stone Corporation (“Wake Stone”) to expand Wake Stone’s quarry onto land that is owned by the County of Wake, County of Durham, City of Raleigh, and City of Durham.
The RDU Airport is a huge asset to the Triangle, but the quarry decision has significant implications outside the traditional scope of airport activities, crossing over into a broader vision for sustainable growth and environmental protection abutting Umstead State Park in Western Wake County.
When the issue first arose in 2017, the RDUAA decided to “take a pause” and directed Wake Stone to “seek additional input from local governments, the broader community, and groups with concerns…” The Raleigh City Council was not contacted by Wake Stone to provide Council input.
Consequently, the Council is concerned that RDUAA’s decision was reached without a transparent and inclusive process that incorporated other offers to buy and/or lease the property, which could provide equal or better financial and environmental outcomes.
There is currently a dispute between the Airport Authority’s attorneys and the Umstead Coalition’s attorneys as to whether a formal release is required by the FAA to allow the Odd Fellows Tract to be leased for use as a stone quarry.
The Airport Authority’s attorneys say no FAA release is required.
The Umstead Coalition’s attorney says an FAA release is required and now reports this has been confirmed via a telephone call with Phillip Braden, Manager of the FAA Memphis Airports District Office – the FAA office in charge of overseeing the operations of RDU Airport.
Given the important intersection of interests and responsibilities, I make the following motion:
That City Council send a letter to the RDUAA leadership requesting that the RDUAA Board reconsider its vote to approve the mineral lease so that affected local governments will have an opportunity to work in collaboration with RDUAA to find an outcome that recognizes the increasing importance and competitive advantage of a closer alignment of goals and mutual support between the Raleigh-Durham Airport and the surrounding community.
The letter should also request that RDUAA agree not to disturb the existing conditions at the proposed quarry site, including refraining from clear-cutting activities, until all pending issues regarding the mineral lease have been resolved.
Finally, the letter should ask the Airport Authority to request a written response from the FAA Memphis Airports District Office to confirm whether the Airport Authority and co-sponsoring municipalities are required to obtain an FAA release in order to lease the Odd Fellows Tract for a quarry. Having a formal response from the Airport Authority and the FAA will inform future decision-making by the Council on this matter.