Private sector progress at any animal’s expense

Lori Wilson | Contributing Writer

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With the state of our country, boosting the struggling economy is a priority, but at what expense-or should I say whose?

For decades, contractors and home developers have been stacking up suburban neighborhoods in areas that were once a home for wildlife. This year, Bill Clark Homes, a well-known home builder and real estate developer in North and South Carolina, is adding yet another neighborhood to the Monkey Junction area of Wilmington-Sycamore Grove.

In order to build these homes, several trees-on top of what was removed for construction-were recently clear-cut and burned in order to add storm surge drains. New Hanover County mandated the production of the new drains but did not suggest the removal of the trees. Therefore, the developers alone decided to put the drains behind the home sites where the trees once were. 

Several hawks were once spotted in the area that is now clear. The Endangered Species Act requires the Department of Defense to “look before it leaps” during army training exercises, so why doesn’t Bill Clark Homes have to do the same? Even if the neglected, unidentified hawk’s breed were not endangered, shouldn’t it still matter?

The battle between the environment and business growth has been discussed at length among our political leaders, especially during this presidential election year. “There is not a rule or regulation that we don’t do a complete cost-benefit analysis at this point and that we don’t have intensive discussions with those who would potentially be affected,” President Obama once said.

But, remember, Mr. Obama, we’re not always saving everyone’s jobs by reducing environmental regulations.

The real story lies in what sits, and has for the past 15 years, directly behind the Bill Clark Home sites-Circle K Equestrian Center, offering riding lessons, camps, boarding, training and showing of horses. 

This week I met Dee, a white and brown miniature pony with big black eyes and a curious side. She galloped over to me and stuck her head out of her pen, looking for love. As I petted the beautiful horse, I wondered if she minded the obnoxious noise coming from the construction. I know I did.

Circle K was not informed that the developers would be burning down trees right next to their stables. Obviously, at least to me, this creates several issues-the risk of hot ash residue landing in hay barrels or drinking water, smoke affecting the horses’ breathing,  and less shade for the grass or animals.

I’m thinking, aren’t there some kind of regulations Bill Clark Homes would have to follow? Apparently not.

According to the county, a burning permit is only required on residential lots larger than one acre. Because each home site is looked at separately, Bill Clark Homes had no obligation, even though more than an acre was affected.

If Circle K has to move their business elsewhere because of the developments now encompassing their stables, their business could be seriously affected. Wilmington residents like the close proximity to their horses versus other stables such as those in Castle Hayne.

Even though environmental regulations are seemingly being loosened for economic concerns, it looks to me that the big business is still the only animal reaping the benefits.