Fight over land owned by the RDU Airport Authority could ground local hikers

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The fight over property owned by the RDU Airport Authority could ground local hikers.

The Airport Authority announced it is looking at spending millions to keep trespassers off their property.

“We have an obligation,” said RDU Airport Authority CFO Bill Sandifer. “We need to follow the law.”

According to RDU Airport Authority CFO Bill Sandifer, hikers and bikers have caused serious environmental issues by trespassing on airport property, and there’s only one way to stop it.

“We’re going to clear a 30-foot wide strip of property, on RDU property, and put a 6-foot high three strand of barbed wire chain length fence right in the middle of it,” said Sandifer.

Sandifer says it would cost the airport more than $6-million to build 18 miles of fencing on the property next to Umstead State Park, part of which has been targetted for a quarry.

“They’re talking about all of this damage the trails are doing, but what the heck is deforesting a beautiful piece of land, taking all of the dirt, and blowing up the land for rocks how is that not environmentally destructive,” said Natalie Leu.

“We’re not a park,” said Sandifer. “We’re not a recreational activity. We need to keep unlawful activity off the property that’s why we’re doing a fence.”

There are still other options on the table according to Sandifer.

“Umstead State Park Division could lease the property from the airport authority, and we could put the fence in a different location,” said Sandifer.

The Umstead Coalition has offered to buy the property in the past for roughly $6.5-million, but Natalie Leu says at the end of the day it’s not about the money.

“If there’s no quarry most of this goes away,” said Leu.

“Quite frankly the airport authority is in a position of significant exposure and legal liability from what’s happening,” said Sandifer. “It’s time to put that to an end.”

Representatives from RDU will be meeting with the state to discuss their options in early January 2020.

They plan to present a proposal to the airport authority board on January 20th, 2020.

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