CHARLOTTE — Charlotte City Council unanimously approved a rezoning April 22 for a Steele Creek outlet mall without some hoped-for promises of help for Lake Wylie residents who live with mud washed away from earlier developments.
The developers of Charlotte Premium Outlets say they will take extra precautions to see that Brown’s Cove residents don’t again become victims of muddy runoff.
Residents saw the 82-acre mall site as a potential threat and a chance to seek tougher erosion standards and the city’s help in fixing the old silt problems. They left disappointed and hinted that legal action might follow.
“Nothing occurred that made me think anything has changed since last week,” when the council held a rezoning hearing, said cove resident Jan Beasley. “It appears nothing more than a charade.”
For more than a decade, residents watched their 23-acre cove fill with silt as a segment of Interstate 485, a Charlotte Douglas International Airport runway and a sprawling residential development were built around them. More than 4 million tons of silt a year poured into the cove in the mid-2000s, according to one study.
Residents have asked the city to make the mall developers post a performance bond to cover erosion damage, hire an erosion manager for the project and set aside tax revenue from development in the watershed to restore water quality.
The mall’s developers agreed to measures that include paying for a monitoring station to detect muddy runoff washing off the site, an enlarged sediment basin, double-row silt fences and an erosion-control manager.
But the other conditions the cove residents sought do not appear in rezoning paperwork.
Beasley said city staffers have told residents that officials are still discussing their problem.
The residents also asked for a city staff liaison to push for dredging the cove. A dredging plan to be funded by developers around the cove fell apart last year when the N.C. Department of Transportation, which built I-485, refused to help pay for it.
Mell Nevils, chief of the N.C. Land Quality Section, said there’s again renewed interest in dredging the cove.
“We have been in discussions with some folks,” including DOT, he said last week. “I don’t know where it’s headed. I’m hopeful something can come of it.”