RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A fight over the placement of a huge electrical operations center in the middle of an Apex neighborhood is escalating.
Some residents of Bella Casa subdivision have hired a lawyer to stop construction. CBS 17 has been following the story since October.
A toy earth mover sits in a yard on Lea Island Cove. Just feet away, the real thing is prepping the site for Apex’s new utility operations center.
“The Town is trying to place this where it doesn’t belong,” said neighborhood resident Joseph Malfeo.
When residents moved into the Bella Casa subdivision, the area where the operations center will be located was just woods and only housed a power substation.
“We were OK,” said resident Ann Nylund. She, along with her sister, walked to the property to check out what was there. “It’s a substation and that’s what they’re using it for. They have trees to protect it and that’s appropriate.”
But, when the Town decided to move its electric operations center there, it cleared the site, leaving little buffer and creating what residents fear is a danger to their kids.
“They are right across the street from the playground and a pool and a school bus stop it was going to impact children in the neighborhood tremendously,” said Nylund.
Because Apex provides electric service to the Town, it’s considered a utility in this case.
The new operations center will also include office space, a car wash, a vehicle maintenance center, as well as storage for power equipment.
If you want to get a feel for what will be stored there, just go to downtown Apex’s utility yard off Upchurch Road. There are transformers, poles, and huge reels of wire stored out in the open.
But, the new facility will house more than that kind of stuff on-site, according to the plans.
“There will be commercial vehicles, large bucket trucks, and 32 pickup trucks,” said Malfeo.
Some of the residents of the subdivision have banded together, using their own funds, to hire a law firm to battle the Town.
In a letter to the Town, attorneys for the neighborhood residents said the planned facility is an improper use of the land and asked the town to “cease work on this project until the issue is resolved.”
The lawyers also said in their letter that the work should be stopped because, if the proposed use of the center is not permitted, “the Town will end up wasting millions of taxpayer dollars constructing a facility that cannot be used for its intended purpose.”
Meanwhile, the Town said it is looking at ideas to mitigate the impact of the facility by erecting walls or fences and changing the amount of light used to illuminate the facility at night.
“They want to drive the narrative to the aesthetics and how they can change that in order to make it better for us, and we’re against that,” said Malfeo.
The Town of Apex has yet to respond to the lawyer’s demands to cease and desist. It said it’s still working on crafting a response.
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