The first warning neighbors had was the sound of chainsaws clearing 19 acres of dense woodland for a State Fair parking lot.
With effectively no public notice or involvement earlier this year, the state Department of Agriculture fundamentally and permanently degraded the environment of a century-old Raleigh neighborhood. This state agency fast-tracked a major project in a sensitive watershed, dodging stronger water quality protections and public accountability through legal loopholes not available to private parties. Now instead of forests, streams, and wildlife, the adjoining neighbors will experience year-round dirty stormwater runoff, baking summer heat off acres of asphalt, and the seasonal treat of air and noise pollution from up to 2,400 vehicles at a time visiting the State Fair.
It’s a textbook case of why the fine print of state law matters, and how damaging it can become to the public when the resulting legal loopholes are irresponsibly exploited. It reminds us how much elections matter to our environment — both of pro-polluter legislators who write bad laws, and anti-conservation Council of State executives who neglect the environment.