Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors unanimously approves $24M lease to Wake County mining company

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to allow Wake Stone Corporation to expand an existing rock quarry.

The vote may have been unanimous, but it did not please everyone. Protesters in the room showed their displeasure.

"Very disappointing to see that they can't value public property for a public use," Bill Doucett said.

The board decided the airport's financial needs were important enough to allow Wake Stone Corporation to enter a 25-year lease to build a rock quarry on the 105-acre Odd Fellows property, which is near Umstead State Park and the company's existing quarry just north of Interstate 40.

"The property is a beautiful piece of property. I think this is a terrible use for it," Tamara Dunn, who lives near the Odd Fellows property, said.

RDU Airport Authority estimated the lease to Wake Stone Corporation will bring in $24 million over 35 years. In addition, the company must provide $3.6 million for a third party to lease 151 acres of airport land to create a mountain biking recreation area.

"We're making a compromise," said Wake Stone President Sam Bratton. "These are concessions that we didn't plan on having to give in order to get this deal done."

Friday's agreement was just the first step. Wake Stone Corporation must obtain all required federal, state and environmental permits for the project to proceed, which could take up to two years.

The business venture started two years ago when RDU Airport Authority started to solicit proposals for revenue sources. That solicitation started because RDU Airport Authority said projected growth in the area is expected to outpace the airport's traditional funding sources.

"After evaluating an initial proposal from Wake Stone Corporation to lease a parcel of airport land for a quarry, the Airport Authority chose to pause and carefully consider revenue options and the community's needs," officials said in a news release. "At that time, the Airport Authority encouraged Wake Stone to seek additional input from local governments, the broader community and groups with concerns about how airport land should be used. The new mineral lease agreement is the result of that good work-ultimately offering more than initially offered.
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