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River Branch worries residents

By Staff
Developer wants opponents to get ‘their facts straight’
By NIKIE MAYO and DAN PARSONS
Staff Writers
The view of North Creek wooed Donna Woolard to Wheat Patch Road in the 1970s.
But there’s a new part of life on the strip of road between Bath and Pamlico Beach — and it has many of the residents of this community outside Belhaven up in arms. They turned out in full force at the Beaufort County Planning Board meeting Tuesday night to oppose River Branch, a housing subdivision planned for a 34-acre tract near the creek.
C&M Developers, the firm behind the project, has been charged with several violations related to work on the 34-acre tract. As part of the Pamlico-Tar River basin, the property is subject to buffer rules that prohibit the removal of vegetation in some areas, according to the state’s Division of Water Quality. A notice of violation issued Aug. 23 charges the firm with violating buffer rules and failing to obtain a necessary stormwater permit.
Myra Woolard, one of the principals of C&M, said she, Carolyn Biggs, her business partner, and Rivers and Associates, the engineering firm working on the project, are striving to resolve those violations. Woolard also said “no further work will be done until they are resolved.”
For its part, the Planning Board approved the project’s preliminary plat Tuesday night, with only a lone dissenting vote. Planning Board member Starlon Credle, who lives in the neighborhood under development, said she could not vote in favor of the plat because she believes the project is in violation of the Coastal Area Management Act, which helps govern development in 20 of the state’s coastal counties.
On Wednesday, Myra Woolard said the residents of Wheat Patch Road “need to get their facts straight.”
CAMA regulators and the Division of Water Quality are aware of the fill dirt that has been piled on the west side of Wheat Patch Road and “have no problem with it,” Woolard said.
Planning Board Chairman Doug Mercer suggested that Rivers and Associates have “some close discussions” with the state’s regulatory agencies. Mercer said that even if the Planning Board has concerns about the project, it has limited authority to exercise.