Holly Springs neighbors split over lake to be drained

HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (WTVD) -- The sound of wind chimes accompanies a peaceful lake view setting in Holly Spring's Avocet subdivision. The seven-acre lake with a walking path all the way around it is a featured amenity for the decade-old community still halfway developed. In the coming months, the water will be gone; the lake, fully drained.

"Of course we're a little worried," said Michelle Stenzko. "You know, it's gonna stink. We're gonna have dead animals. We're gonna have dead wildlife. We're gonna have vultures eating the wildlife."

Stenzko and her family bought their home in Avocet a couple of years ago; the lake was a big selling point. She and other neighbors learned of the lake draining in their May HOA newsletter, informing homeowners it was necessary in order to strengthen the dam and that the developer would allow the lake to refill naturally.

"We want a plan," said Stenzko. "We want an action plan of what you plan to do other than letting nature take its course. I don't think that's fair to the community."

People who live on the water tell ABC11 they're worried the waterfront lot they paid a premium for will tank in value once the lake is drained.

"I don't think there's really anything Bill Clark Homes could have done about that," said Caleb Fletcher, one of many neighbors who feel the lake draining won't have an impact on their quality of life.

"It would be better to have a not-so-good view for a couple of months than to have the dam break and have a lot more damage down the road," he said.

Don Fraley, Division Manger for Bill Clark Homes, said there's no way around draining the lake. In order to continue building, Wake County and the NC Division of Environmental Quality's Dam Safety Program mandate the aging dam be repaired. Fraley said it's a common practice and will cost BCH about $350,000 to comply. He said once they pump the lake dry and make repairs, weather permitting, it would be a matter of months before the stream and storm drainage that feed the lake refill it.

"I think the real story is, if we did not do what is required of us to do here," Fraley told ABC11. "We are sensitive to the temporary impact this will have on our homeowners but we are dedicated to protecting their investments for the future."

Fraley said he's been talking with biologists about how best to manage the wildlife that will be affected and that he intends to restock the lake when the project is complete.

As for potential buyers interested in lakefront lots still undeveloped, Fraley said he has fully disclosed the lake will be temporarily closed.

There is no set time for the project to begin. Fraley said he's still waiting on the county to approve the plans.

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