Car wash drain field raises concerns in Fearrington

Chatham Commissioners unanimously denied the zoning request


Residents of Fearrington Village raised concerns at the Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting on March 18.

The issue surrounds a proposal for new drainage field for a new Sam's Car Wash, a development that needs a zoning modification and approval from the board because the field would exist in a buffer zone created when Fearrington Village was developed.

“They are proposing a drain field in that buffer that is all down hill from Fearrington Village, we have potentially toxic chemicals, including forever chemicals, flowing into Fearrington Village, through Fearrington Village into Jordan Lake,” said Steve Stewart, president of the Fearrington Homeowners Association. “We aren’t opposed to Sam’s Car Wash. They did what they were supposed to do… they apparently had a verbal but not written agreement with Old North State” water company to take their effluent that, he says, fell apart.

Stewart asked the board to deny the zoning request and have the car wash work out its original agreement with the water company.

Future impact beyond Fearrington was also a concern, in particular, the impact of the septic field. “Sam's Car Wash has stated they will not be monitoring the stream or the ground water wells. How will we know if chemicals get into the ground in the stream?” asked another speaker. “We don’t even know what chemicals will be present.”

More than a half-dozen local residents spoke against the car wash’s drain field.

“We're not asking to encroach in the riparian buffer… and the purpose of the buffer… should soften the visible impact” of other facilities, said Lydia Lavelle, an attorney representing the company behind the car wash. “The impact would be minimal and we believe you have full justification… to grant this waiver. The ability to request this respects this process.”

The commission unanimously declined the zoning request. Ahead of the vote, Commissioner Katie Kenlan said it was important to show the citizenry that they’re being listened to.

“I am also very deeply into the notion that North Chatham is not available for development at any cost,” declared Vice Chair Karen Howard.

Commissioners made it clear that alternative proposals could be brought before the board in the future and that the denial did not impact other possible solutions.