RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The RDU Airport Authority voted unanimously Friday to take the next steps in eventually allowing a company to build a private quarry on 100 acres of public land next to Umstead State Park.
Dozens of protesters stood out in the cold ahead of the Authority’s meeting in hopes that they would have their voices heard in opposition to the plan.
There was a packed house for the meeting once it began around 9 a.m. Many of those opposed to the plan were holding signs reading “Save RDU Forest” and “Stop RDU Quarry.” Representatives from Wake Stone, the company who will build the quarry, sat in the front row.
The RDU Airport Authority announced at the start of the meeting that they would not be taking public comment from those in attendance. There were at least 50 people in the audience who were hoping to have the opportunity to speak.
The Authority went over the terms of the lease agreement with Wake Stone, saying that the money from the lease would help with airport operations.
The terms of the mineral lease agreement are for 25 years with a total value of $31 million ($24 million in revenue, $3.6 million for a recreational lease and $3 million in reclamation once the lease ends).
A member of the Authority said that the land is currently only being used for unauthorized recreational activity that “constitutes trespassing.”
A conservation group in attendance said they believe the board is violating federal law by moving forward with the plan because — they say — the board hasn’t gotten an FAA release. Authority attorney Jim Tatum said the FAA is aware of the plans.
The board approved the mineral lease terms unanimously. One member recused himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest.