Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Neighbors worry about Charlotte Premium Outlet mall runoff

Environmental advocates and residents near Lake Wylie said Monday they are still worried about runoff from a proposed outlet mall in Steele Creek, as developers reassured Charlotte City Council they will take steps to control erosion.

The mall, known as Charlotte Premium Outlets, would be up to 525,000 square feet of gross space, and would also include a 120-room hotel. The 82-acre site is between Steele Creek Road, Shopton Road and Dixie River Road, at the interchange with I-485.

Environmental advocates and nearby residents have said the coves around Lake Wylie are filling with silt from runoff.

They worry development will add to the problem of runoff, by removing trees and other runoff buffers and paving ground that usually soaks up water.

“It does not seem like anyone’s hearing us,” said Jan Beasley, who owns a home on Brown’s Cove.
She said that previous erosion controls on nearby developments such as Berewick have been inadequate.

“This public hearing’s nothing but a charade,” she said. “That’s what this feels like.”

Charlotte City Council had to hold a second hearing on the petition to rezone land for the outlet mall and a nearby 114-acre possible industrial park due to a problem with notifying the public about a prior hearing.

Simon Property Group and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers had originally planned to build two separate, competing outlet malls.

The Simon mall would have been located in Stallings, near I-485. But last year, the companies decided to join forces and build one outlet mall together in Steele Creek.

The developers have offered to include more extensive erosion controls, such as double rows of silt fences and larger erosion control basins, to help with runoff from the site.

“We think we’re actually going to be raising the bar materially on the environmental concerns,” said Jefferson Brown, an attorney representing the developers.

Beasley said that neighbors are not opposed to developing the mall, but want to see even more stringent erosion-control measures required. She said existing regulations should be more strictly enforced as well.

An acre of paved ground creates 26,000 gallons of runoff water for each inch of rainfall, according to the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.

Some homeowners who opposed the developers were emotional

“This is my home!” a man in the audience yelled at City Council, before being asked to remain silent.
“If it was your home, what would you do?”

The developers have been approved to receive more than $5.1 million in tax reimbursements from the city and Mecklenburg County to help pay for road upgrades and other work on the site.

“Brown’s Cove is really brown,” said Charlotte City Council member Beth Pickering.

She said options such as dredging are still being considered, and suggested adding larger erosion control basins.

Council member David Howard said he thought many of the necessary measures were included in the developers’ proposal.

“I think some of what you’re looking for is already here,” he told Beasley.

City Council is expected vote on the mall’s rezoning request at their next meeting on Monday.

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