Public Information Meeting about Stream Buffers

Stream Buffers Public Information MeetingThe Town of Chapel Hill will hold a public information meeting and discussion about stream buffers from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the Council Chamber of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Organized by the Chapel Hill Stormwater Advisory Board, the meeting will feature presentations on key issues related to buffer widths from our waterways.

The Chapel Hill Town Council is considering changes to the Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO) that would amend the Town’s existing riparian buffer protection zone known as the Resource Conservation District (RCD).

The Town enacted the Jordan Watershed Riparian Buffer Protection ordinance, which provides 50–foot buffers along intermittent and perennial streams, lakes, ponds and reservoirs. The Town has riparian buffer protection requirements contained in the RCD provisions. In some instances, the RCD buffer widths are greater than those in the Jordan buffer regulations. The Town is considering changes to simplify implementation of all regulations that apply to stream buffers.

The public meeting will provide an opportunity to identify key issues in considering the appropriate buffer widths from waterways and to hear presentations about the science of stream buffers.

Michele Drostin of the UNC Institute for the Environment will facilitate the presentations and moderate public comment. Presentations will be made by Michael Paul, a senior scientist at Tetratech; Deanna Osmond, a soil science professor and extension leader at NC State University; and Fred Royal, managing engineer at Brown and Caldwell. Paul has worked in the field of water quality with a focus on the application of ecological tools and models to develop biological criteria to protect water quality. Osmond has focused her research on reduction of agricultural pollutants through the use of conservation practices. Royal will speak on his experience in developing Chatham County’s water quality ordinances.

For more information, contact Matt Witsil, Stormwater Advisory Board Chair, at; Julie McClintock, Stormwater Advisory Board member, at; or Sue Burke, Stormwater Management Engineer, or 919-969-7266


Agenda item from the November 12, 2012 Public Hearing:

Section 3.6 Land Use Management Ordinance (RCD is Section 3.6.3):

RCD Frequently Asked Questions:

LUMO Section 5.18 Jordan Watershed Riparian Buffer Protection Ordinance:

RCD – Information item:

Resource Conservation District (RCD) Supplemental Information:

Resource Conservation District (RCD) Determinations:

Land Use Management Ordinance Text Amendments for the RCD Stream Buffer Regulations:

RCD and Jordan Buffer Comparison:

Presentations from January 22, 2013 Public Information Meeting:
Deanna Osmond- “Stream Buffers”:

Michael J. Paul- “Riparian Zones- What is the right width?

Fred Royal- “Establishing and Managing Riparian Buffers in Chatham County, NC

2 thoughts on “Public Information Meeting about Stream Buffers

  1. Pingback: Stream Buffer Discussion | Friends of Bolin Creek

  2. Sarah McIntee says:

    That reminds me that I need to contact public works? NC DOT? about Bolin Creek is starting to undermine Estes Drive in the segment between Camelot Condos (built in 1967 on a floodplain) and the CH Community center. It is right where the sidewalk makes a kink to avoid the meander’s steep bank. It will only take one more big storm to have Estes Drive collapsing from being undermined. This segment of Estes Drive needs to be a bridge. Actually, considering a future of larger rainstorms as made by climate change, there should be planning for much of the lower part of Estes Drive to be a bridge over a renaturalized wetland. In this area, a wetland would serve as a sponge and would allow breathing room for Bolin creek’s natural meanders. Meandering also helps keep Bolin creek from cutting too deep into the ground. No doubt, when Univeristy Mall was built, there was much fill put in for the massive parking lot that game goers now enjoy for park and ride. It is a good idea to give creeks room as the meanders shift. It is a real problem when it comes to undoing landscape mistakes, like building in a flood plain. Ultimately, unless much of that parking lot becomes more permeable, it, too, will eventually be undermined by water activity. Camelot condos will be doomed to sufffer more flooding unless there are rebuilt up high with parking underneath, like beach houses. If we are smart, we will require all future upland parking areas to be permeable block, or paving strips with intermittent grass seams to allow water to penetrate.

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