RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new rock quarry near Raleigh-Durham International Airport is supposed to bring the airport millions in revenue to expand runways, add gates, and even add more flights, but the lease agreement might not be so clear cut.
The battle over the rock quarry has spilled over from RDU and into the Raleigh city council chambers.
“Just on its face, the city council does not have any veto power over the lease itself,” said Raleigh City Attorney Robin Tatum Currin.
While the city council may not have veto power, it voted to seek a ruling from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Only Raleigh City Council member Dickie Thompson, who is also a member of the RDU Airport Authority, voted against seeking the FAA’s input.
“It’s a very complicated matter when you deal with FAA restrictions and requirements,” said Dickie Thompson. “I welcome folks to dig into that and see.”
CBS 17 reached out to the FAA, which provided this statement:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not received a request from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport Authority, which is the airport sponsor, regarding the property. The FAA must approve a long-term lease of airport property for non-aeronautical purposes. A long-term lease is not a land release. However, the same FAA guidelines apply to long-term leases and land releases.
CBS 17 asked Thompson if Wake Stone could move forward with clearing the ground.
“It depends on the terms of the lease,” Thompson said.
CBS 17 reached out to RDU to see if its lease with Wake Stone was now null and void based off of the FAA response. An RDU spokesperson sent this statement:
The lease agreement executed by the Airport Authority Board is neither a long-term lease nor a land release as defined by the FAA.
Note, we addressed due diligence and regulatory compliance in our press release as well: The Airport Authority navigates and complies with an intricate web of statutory and regulatory requirements every day. The Airport Authority has done due diligence related to its approval of the agreement with Wake Stone, and is confident that the permitting and approval process to determine the feasibility of the expansion of the existing quarry can begin. The Airport Authority remains committed to complying with all applicable laws and requirements.
“I doubt they would be going out there and clear cutting something if they never got a permit to spend all of this money for no reason,” Thompson said. “I don’t know all of the details. Like any lease, they can be multiple pages long so I really don’t want to quote bits and pieces from a lease.”
As RDU and the Raleigh City Council work to sort out the details, Thompson said it will now be up to the North Carolina legislature to approve mining permits.