What Highland Creek wants, Highland Creek gets. At least that's how it has worked so far. I used to live about two minutes from the massive development - one of the largest in the state.
The neighborhood developed near Wallace Farm, a farm that has existed for over 50 years. For a while, Wallace Farm was one of the area's largest dairy farms. They turned to composting during the 90s. Here's a bit from their site where you can read more of their story and learn about the products they sell.
Wallace Farm is a family owned and operated business that has been in existence for more than 50 years. Originating as a dairy cattle operation in the early 1940's, Wallace Farm functioned as one of the largest dairy farms in the state of North Carolina until 1990. During this time, other opportunities arose, and the Wallace family decided to diversify by leasing the dairy facilities and taking a place in the soil and compost industry.
With the increasing number of environmental concerns and regulations, the Wallace family set out to develop an environmentally friendly method of managing animal waste. Aerobic composting proved to be the logical solution. Originating one of the few "real" composted cow manures available today, Wallace Farm has since developed a line of soil and compost products that we feel are far above the rest.
Cattle and composting. Both can be a stinky business. Now, folks in Highland Creek neighborhood - a massive development with thousands of homes - don't like the fact that they bought their homes near a composting business. The story was in Sunday's CharO.
Frank Buckshon said he noticed a putrid smell wafting over his Highland Creek home immediately after he moved there in 2001.
He has been trying to do something about it ever since, by contacting city, county and state officials. He organized a petition of 500 names that he took to a city meeting, but nothing has changed, he said.
The smell comes from nearby Wallace Farm, a 75-acre composting facility on Eastfield Road a short distance north of the mammoth Highland Creek neighborhood.
The conflict is the latest example of the problems that can arise as growth turns rural areas into suburbs. The University area is one of the county's fastest-growing areas, and Highland Creek's 13,800 residents and 4,300-plus homes make it one of the state's largest residential developments.
Buckshon said he has tried to get the odor problem fixed without making a lot of noise, but now he hopes getting the word out will make something happen.
"You smell it when they turn those big piles," said Buckshon, 76, who lives in Falcon Ridge, a community in Highland Creek. "If they turn it in the morning, you go outside and you gag. If they turn them in the afternoon, we can't even use our patio at night because the odor is so bad."
Maybe they should have looked at what surrounded the neighborhood before buying.
I've driven through Highland Creek and down Eastfield road for the past ten years. I've driven by Wallace Farm too many times to count and have never, ever noticed a smell.
What does Eric Wallace have to say? From the CharO:
Wallace Farm was established more than 50 years ago as a dairy farm and has been composting ever since, said Eric Wallace, vice president of Wallace Farm Inc.
"We went from not having any neighbors to having houses 30 feet from the property line," Wallace said. "I'm not one of those who says, `We were here first.' But you can't deny the fact that there was encroachment on this property. We would prefer not to have neighbors so close. But we do, and we run our operation accordingly."
A man on Highland Creek's HOA board had this to say:
"The major concern is that is smells. It smells rotten," he said. "It smells like a livestock kind of smell, a barnyard smell."
Good Lord people! You moved next to a freaking farm. What did you think it would smell like? Even before the composting they were the largest dairy farm in the area. Just how yummy was that smell?
With the residents hinting that Wallace doesn't have proper permits, reporter Karen Cimino checked with the county.
Joe Hack, project manager for Mecklenburg County Land Use and Environmental Services Agency's solid waste group, said his agency inspects Wallace Farm.
"Based on the inspection, they've been operating under their permit," Hack said. "The composting process by itself does emit odors periodically. They appear to be infrequent. We've followed up on (neighbors') request and haven't been able to document the odors."
Infrequent odors. Ah, so now those of us with brains - which doesn't appear to include City Councillor John Lassiter - know what's really going on. These folks bought their homes without checking to see what businesses were around them. Now they're concerned about their property values and they want to put Wallace Farm out of business.
I don't plan on making that easy for them.
Let's get some LTE's going. Click here for the form to send an LTE to the Observer.
Next, send an email to John Lassiter and let him know
what an absolute ass just how wrong he is. Click here to email John Lassiter, Mayor Pat McCrory and the rest of the Charlotte City Council.
Finally, and this is the most important step. Please go here to contact the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They plan to review the permit for Wallace Farm and will hold a public hearing in the University Area. Highland Creek will potentially have hundreds of people in attendance. Don't let them force this family-owned business out of the neighborhood.