DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Worries about one of the Triangle’s main sources of water are at the top of mind for some residents in Durham County.

The concerns were triggered after the city of Durham recently approved hundreds of new housing units along Kemp Road.

Living just down the street from where nearly 665 housing units will eventually take form, Tom Freeman and others in Southeast Durham are worried that development could destroy Lick Creek. 

“It’s been designated as a Natural Heritage Area, and now we’re going to lose it,” Freeman said.

Last week, the Durham City Council approved an annexation of over 270 acres along Kemp Road to allow for the development.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop samples the creek, which runs underneath the road, every other week.

“The sediment pollution that is ongoing in Lick Creek is the most severe that I have seen in the entire watershed,” Krop said.

She and local advocates are concerned about the location of the project because Krop said it’s already a federally impaired waterway with pollution over the state standard. Lick Creek runs directly into Falls Lake, which is the primary source of water for those who live in Raleigh.

“Developing this area is going to require not only clearing the forest but blasting and regrading the land which is going to contribute sediment to the creek,” she said.



Durham City Council Member and Mayor-elect Leonardo Williams tells CBS 17 the annexation was approved because the project proposal surpasses the minimum standards required in Durham’s development ordinance.

“Now that it’s on these banks, we expect it to be more intense, more accelerated,” Freeman said. “There’s not going to be a good outcome.”

City officials plan to meet with the Environmental Affairs Board to discuss how they can further manage growth and the environment.