After the August 14, 2019 Notice of Violation letter sent from Martin Roupe to Tony Merritt, NC Leaks confronted the Town Council yet again at the September 10 public meeting. Here's what Hornik, the Town of Carrboro attorney, had to say in response to our inquiry about a timeline for enforcing the Merritt Gravel Pit Notice of Violation.
September 10, 2019 Board of Alderman Meeting
Bob Hornik: “We’ve been working with many jurisdictions over many months -- more than a year trying to sort out who has jurisdiction over what actions on that property.”
FACT: We first notified TOC in writing in 2017 about land use violations by Merritt’s Gravel Pit. We provided all staff at TOC with copies of Merritt’s Gravel Pit NCDEQ Permit along with the maps delineating the boundaries.
FACT: Our constant contact with Orange County, Town of Carrboro and NCDEQ as well as our continued Freedom of Information Act public records requests put these government entities on the hot seat. They have made gestures to resolve the problem, but to date, there has been no final resolution, and Merritt violates the cease and desist whenever the urge falls upon him. He does so with absolute impunity.
Hornik: “It was under a state mining permit for a long time. The mining permit was relatively recently modified…”
FACT: On June 17, 2008, Merritt’s Gravel Pit applied for, and was granted, a mining permit modification. However, prior to that modification, the western portion of Tony Merritt’s property had already been reclaimed from mining before he ever bought the land from his aunt.
FACT: 2008 is NOT “relatively recently modified”.
Hornik: “...the property on the left that was shown as an unpermitted area...that was a permitted area at one point. It’s no longer a permitted area. That’s something we learned relatively recently.”
FACT: The property on the left was mined by Billy Merritt, Tony’s father and reclaimed by him also (returned to its original state with grass and trees). Tony NEVER mined that land because NCDEQ wouldn’t allow him to re-mine land that had already been reclaimed from mining.
FACT: In 2017, we notified TOC, OC and NCDEQ that the area was not under a mining permit and had not been for years. We knew this because we had spent 5 hours at Raleigh's NCDEQ office reviewing every document associated with the Merritt mining permit and requested copies of those documents. In short, we made the effort to understand the applicable regulations and laws.
Hornik: “We are trying to figure out what is the best fix for what is uh, uh, what, uh, may be some protected stream.”
FACT: TOC’s own storm water inspector, Randy Dodd, drafted an 18-page report confirming the existence of a stream buffer in the area in which Hornik is now pretending there may not be a stream buffer. TOC staff instructed Dodd to withhold that final report from us for over 3 weeks once it was complete. This fact was confirmed for us by Mr. Dodd himself when he said to us, "I was instructed by the town staff not to release the report to you." Despite the fact that we ORDERED the stream inspection and report, we had to request the report through the Freedom of Information Act.