Carrboro's Notice of Violation for Merritt Gravel Pit Land Use Ordinance Violations
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Below is the letter sent from Martin Roupe to Tony Merritt. This letter very clearly states the town's position on what ordinances have been violated by Tony Merritt. Less than 30 days later, Robert Hornik, the town's attorney, so fiercely backpedaled during the September 10 Town Council meeting, we thought he might pull a muscle.
August 14, 2019
Mr. Tony Merritt, Member/Manager
3200 Damascus Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516-8055
Re: Notice of Land Use Ordinance Violations – 3200
Damascus Church Road (Orange County PIN: 9777 36 7019)
Dear Mr. Merritt:
As you know, we have been discussing with your daughter, Katelin Merritt, and with your engineer, Pat Shillington, the status of various activities recently occurring on the above-referenced property (particularly the portion no longer subject to your State mining permit No. 68-04) in relation to applicable provisions of the Town of Carrboro’s Land Use Ordinance (“LUO”). Ms. Merritt and Mr. Shillington provided us with some information about those activities (primarily grading and excavation activities and hauling of fill material from offsite onto the area in question). We had been advised that the hauling activities and excavation related to the “reclamation” of the former mining operation on the western portion of the property had been completed. (See attached “Beneficial Fill/Grading and Erosion Control Plan). However, we have been advised of ongoing activity on that area of the property in recent days.
Furthermore, as you know, we have been reviewing the circumstances regarding the extension of a dirt or gravel “haul” road along your southern boundary (in common with the Wildflower property) and the resulting ponding of surface water along that common boundary line, and primarily on the Wildflower property.
None of the activities described above were reviewed or approved by the Town of Carrboro’s Planning and Zoning Department. We have come to the conclusion that any activities involving bringing soil, dirt, or other fill material onto the western portion of your property, west of the “Existing Mine Permit Limits” as depicted on the enclosed plan) from off-site constitutes “landfill” activity (see General Statute 130A-290(a)(16)) which is not permitted on the property under the Town’s Land Use Ordinance. Your property is located in a Watershed Residential (WR) zoning district and, per LUO 15-146 (Table of Permissible Uses), a landfill is not permitted in the WR district. Additionally, any other grading or excavation activities in the area released from your mining permit constitutes “development” and/or “land disturbing activity” as defined in the LUO, and requires a land use permit from the Town.
Moreover, we have determined that the creation and extension of the “haul” road along the southern boundary of your property in common with the Wildflower property violates Land Use Ordinance Section 15-261.1 and 15-269.2(c). Moreover, per LUO 15-46(a) a permit is required before excavating or grading activities may occur on the portion of the property no longer under the State mining permit. There is a stream along the southern boundary as shown on the Town’s GIS database, that is protected by a stream buffer under the Land Use Ordinance. Any disturbance of that stream buffer is prohibited (with limited exceptions, which we do not believe exist here).
Based on the foregoing, you must cease and desist any further grading, excavating, or hauling in of fill materials from any other location onto the western portion of your property, which area is no longer subject to a State Mining Permit. You must also take immediate steps to develop a plan to restore the stream buffer along your southern boundary (line in common with the Wildflower property).
Finally, we require that you, or your representatives, meet with us on or before Friday, August 23, 2019, in order to discuss how we may proceed to resolve these issues and the apparent violations of the Town’s Land Use Ordinance in a timely fashion, and in a way which satisfies the intent of the Land Use Ordinance. You should contact me at 919-918-7333 or email me at email@example.com to schedule that meeting.
Should you fail to (a) discontinue landfilling activities and/or the grading and excavation on the western portion of your property beyond the “Existing Mine Permit Limits” as shown on the enclosed plan, or (b) contact me by August 23, 2019 to discuss your plans to correct the violations of the Land Use Ordinance described in this letter by Friday, August 23, 2019, the Town may commence more formal enforcement activity pursuant to the LUO.
Please consider this letter to be notice of the LUO violations pursuant to LUO 15-113(a) and (b). Your failure to comply may result in the assessment of civil penalties per LUO 15-114. You may appeal this determination to the Board of Adjustment by filing an appeal to that Board within 30 days of the date of this letter pursuant to LUO 15-117.
Very truly yours,
Martin Roupe Development Review Administrator
cc: Katelin Merritt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Patricia McGuire, Planning Director
David Andrews, Town Manager
Robert E. Hornik, Jr., Town Attorney