Expert: Burton Creek didn’t hurt coves
by Courtney Price
The clear-cutting at Burton Creek did not significantly increase purported sedimentation in adjacent coves, a consultant told Lincoln County commissioners this week.
Michael Wolfe, natural resources senior consultant for S&ME Inc., was paid by the county to study the bottom of the lake in four coves that collect runoff from the Burton Creek planned subdivision.
“I don’t see any sign of noteworthy sediment accumulation in any of these coves,” Wolfe said at the Monday, June 18, meeting.
“It was dredged out in 2001 to 9 feet (below full pond) by my neighbor,” resident Rudy Bauer said. “It’s now filled up with muck.”
But Wolfe said that cove would have filled up even without the Burton Creek development.
“I see a small amount of brighter sediment at the top. But coves three and four are on intermittent stream channels, and they get a regular feed of storm water discharge apart from any land disturbance,” he said.
Commissioners originally approved the development plan in February 2005.
Burton Creek Investments acquired the property in March 2006 and cleared the land in preparation for construction after obtaining an erosion control permit in May 2006. The company went bankrupt, however, before building on the 250-acre site.
Lakefront homeowners near the property have claimed that rains have washed soil from the cleared land into their coves.
Wolfe said a drastic change in color is likely an illusion, referring to some resident concerns about a change in the water’s color.
“The sediment can spread out (after a storm) and give the impression of a much greater quantity,” Wolfe said. “What you’re seeing is a dramatic visual effect.”
The color of the sediment changes over time, he added. As the soil sits under water, Wolfe said, it turns gray.
“We saw nothing that indicated a deposition (within the past five years) of any bright color,” Wolfe said. “We have found that there’s nothing particularly unusual. Nothing to indicate any extreme recent events.”
At Monday night’s meeting, the board also:
• Approved a rezoning request that will allow solar power company Strata Solar to construct a solar farm in western Lincoln County.
• Heard proposed changes to the fire code, but tabled the vote to allow more time for review.
• Heard a presentation about the Charlotte region’s air quality and potential harm it could have in attracting new business.
• Went into closed session to discuss personnel and a land purchase agreement.
• Recessed until June 28 at 6:30 p.m., when commissioners will meet to discuss and finalize the county’s budget.