Testimony of Rose Krasnow – August 16, 2021 (Congruus)

My name is Rose Krasnow and I reside at 594 Woodbury in Fearrington Village. Professionally, I am an urban planner who served three terms as the Mayor of Rockville, Maryland. Now I am Vice President of the Fearrington Homes Association and Chair of the Wastewater Management Task Force. Both of these groups are very concerned about the Congruus proposal to expand the limits of the Compact Community Ordinance (CCO).

When the CCO was created, density was capped at 2650 units. Its stated purpose was to allow some pockets of density throughout the County while still preserving Chatham’s rural character. Continuing to allow more properties into the CCO is not in keeping with this intent. Even more important is that there is no means to manage the wastewater that would result from these dense developments.

The Comprehensive Plan states that “it is likely that distributed private and public systems will be needed to meet environmental and economic goals” and that the development of Property under the CCO could and should allow coordination with existing development along 15-501 to create a regional sanitary sewer solution.

Congruus says it agrees that a regional approach is needed, apparently because they do not want to build their own treatment plant. Rather, they have implied they will connect to either the Briar Chapel or the Fearrington Village plant. No! This is not acceptable. These plants were built to serve their particular communities and should not become regional plants. We have already seen the problems that Briar Chapel has been having with their own plant. Numerous sewer spills and odor problems have resulted in the assessed value of properties closest to the plant actually going down. Thank goodness the state agreed that the interconnect between Fearrington Village and Briar Chapel was a bad idea. Yet now we are facing the possibility of another interconnected system. The existing FV WWTP does not have the capacity to handle the wastewater generated by Fearrington Preserve. Our approved capacity is only 270,000 gallons a day. Moreover, the applicant has not considered either the cost or the disruption to FV of building a three mile long interceptor sewer line and the pumping stations that would be required. We have looked at the approximate route of such a line, and there is a 100 foot increase in elevation just to reach 15-501 from Pokeberry Creek. Moreover, the cost could easily reach five million dollars, which would have to be recovered from rate payers like myself.

The applicant stated that stakeholders of the community have been contacted. We are unaware of any effort to speak to residents of the Village or to the Fearrington Homeowners Association.

The Chatham County Government set a precedent for a regional approach to water management years ago when they applied for and were granted the withdrawal of water from Jordan Lake. The same regional approach should be considered for wastewater management. We urge you not to approve expansion of the CCO boundaries. Rather, we ask you to put together a study commission that can come up with a solution to this ongoing wastewater management issue. The problem will not go away on its own. Please don’t cave to the developers.