Snow Camp Environmental Defense League
Preserving a Safe and Healthy Environment in Snow Camp
We are a nonprofit community organization dedicated to preserving our quality of life and the clean, healthy environment we value in Snow Camp, North Carolina.
Recent industrialization is threatening our groundwater, our air quality and our way of life. Snow Camp Environmental Defense League (SCEDL) is committed to preserving these vital resources and promoting sustainable development consistent with our quality of life in Snow Camp.
Founded n the late 1700's by Pennsylvania Quakers, Snow Camp, NC is a rural, agricultural community in Alamance County with a rich history associated with opposition to slavery and home to Regulators whose opposition to the British led up to the Revolutionary War. Today's Snow Camp has grown up around the original Quaker Village where many original structures from the 1700's still stand. Our community has modernized over the years but still rely on groundwater as our soul source of drinking water. Community members value our clean water, clean air, gentle sounds of nature and our historic roots.
A Warning is Not Good Enough!
Alamance County Planning Board Meeting 02/07/22, where the Small Area Plan was killed by a room of vocal farmers.
Proposed Small Area Plan Zoning Ordinance
With just the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) the Commissioners cannot deny a permit for a heavy industry if the checklist application is complete.
In November 2020, the Alamance County Board of Commissions approved a small area zoning plan for Snow Camp. This was intended to be a zoning overlay for our community that would give us a say in what types of industries and developments are permitted in our community. We were given a draft of the plan late 2021 which was developed by our former county attorney's office, an outspoken supporter of industrial development in Alamance County. This draft was fraught with extensive provisions that everyone found offensive, including how many trees can be in the front and back yards of private residences and a strict density provision that would threaten mobile home parks. This was never the intent of this zoning overlay, and in the end, at the Planning Board meeting on February 7, 2022, the excessive restrictions killed the small area overlay plan with several farmers threatening to oust the current Commissions if they allowed it to go any further.
The farmers meant well but they were mistaken in their understanding that without some form of zoning, the Commissions can deny any permit that would threaten our water and air quality. With just the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) the Commissioners cannot deny a permit for a heavy industry if the checklist application is completed. According to past Alamance County Commissioner Chairperson, Amy Galey, even if the application shows that the operations would completely drain our wells, they would have to approve the permit if the application is complete. "At least we would have a warning."
A warning is not good enough!
Without some form of zoning, not even the Commissioners can deny a permit for a polluting industry. Development of the NC Carolina Core megasite corridor along Hwy 421 is undergoing unprecedented growth fueled by $ billions in state and regional funding. Snow Camp is a target for heavy polluting industries and high density development capitalizing on this growth.
Zoning is the only way that a discretionary determination can be made if a proposed heavy industry is compatible with our community or if it would put our health, safety, property values and quality of life at risk. Without some form of zoning, not even the Commissioners can deny a permit for a polluting heavy industry.
We need to act now to protect our rights to a safe and healthy quality of life in Snow Camp.
Zoning is the only way we get a seat at the table when it comes to determining what types of development are allowed in our community. It gives the Commissioners discretionary authority to deny a development, which they DO NOT have just with the UDO. Snow Camp and perhaps all of Alamance County can consider a more open zoning ordinance by modeling after a predominately rural community such as Camden County, NC.
Click Zoning Examples to see zoning categories that include Rural Residential, Working Lands, Suburban Residential, Neighborhood Residential and Village Residential. One or more of these categories might work for Snow Camp.
NC Office of Administrative Hearing appeal of the NC mining permit, October 2021.
Protections for Water Wells Added to the NC DEQ Mining Permit
How well do you know your well?
In October 2021, several neighbors as Petitioners representing the interests of Snow Camp Community appealed the mining permit issued by the NC DEQ for the Snow Camp Mine in the NC Office of Administrative Hearings in Raleigh, citing concerns about blasting and water quality. The judge presiding in our case made it clear that certain legal questions that we raised regarding the state permit would have to be resolved not in his court but through another appeal before a higher court. In light of mounting legal fees and weighing the interest of the community, the Petitioners agreed that resolving the case by a legal settlement provided more certainty and protection for our neighbors in the long run.
The Petitioners and the DEQ reached a settlement agreement that affords greater protections for all Snow Camp water wells from potential impacts from the quarry operations. This agreement does far more than the DEQ has historically agreed to do in the past. Under the settlement agreement, the MITIGATION PLAN FOR RESIDENTIAL WATER-SUPPLY WELLS will apply to any and all wells in the Snow Camp community. Under this mitigation plan, any concerns that a citizen has about a potential adverse impact to his or her water well that the owner believes resulted from mining operations can be reported directly to the NC DEQ. The DEQ will work with Alamance Aggregates to have the well inspected by a specialist to determine the cause of the adverse impact. If the specialist finds that the impact is attributed to mining operations, then Alamance Aggregates, will take immediate steps to provide water and to return the well to functionality.
It is advisable for anyone concerned about the potential impact that the quarry or any other industrial development might have on their well to have a baseline established for water contaminants and for the groundwater level within your well.
Alamance County offers the following recommended baseline testing: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, iron, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nitrates, nitrites, selenium, silver, sodium, zinc, pH, and bacterial indicators. Older wells can also be tested for these parameters. The county offers this testing for $110 (Full Panel Test). A Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC) test, which includes benzene and 46 other compounds, costs $100 through the county. The water level may be on record with the county or included on a well tag if you have one. If you cannot determine your baseline water level, it can be measured by a licensed well contractor. The best way to start is to contact the county directly about your specific well. Our contact at Alamance County is as follows:
Tara Hart, REHS
PFAS and PFAOS testing is not offered by the county or the state. These are forever chemicals that may be cancer causing and not typically associated with mining, but it would be a good idea for any concerned citizen to have this testing done. The Haw River was recently found to be contaminated with PFAS which has subsequently contaminated the town of Pittsboro's water supply. The source of contamination has been traced to a plant in Greensboro. State and local officials now working with Pittsboro to remediate the contamination. We do not know if that contamination has made it into our ground water. More information on these chemicals can be found here. PFAS_Factsheet_6.15.22. PFAS testing can be performed by these laboratories. PFAS Water Testing Laboratories.