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Tip of the Iceberg

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If Crescent Resources is anything, it's prolific. Up and down the Catawba River at Lakes James, Norman and Wylie and at Mountain Island Lake, you'll find their work. As the size and number of Crescent developments have increased over the years, so have the public's objections. Here is a rundown of some of the most contentious events to date.

* South Pointe -- When Crescent announced plans in 1997 for this Lake James development in Burke County, the public protested to the Burke County Commissioners and the planning staff. Angered residents even staged a demonstration at the entrance of South Pointe during an Open House ceremony hosted by Crescent. This was the first significant display of public disapproval over Crescent developing land that was originally acquired by a public utility for the purpose of hydropower operation, not subdivision development. "South Pointe is what really brought me forward," said Paul Braun, a member of Citizens to Save Lake James. "We were one of the first groups to stand up for the Catawba River and criticize Crescent's development practices. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the river is in trouble, regardless of what Crescent says. The only hope of improving the river and the lakes is to stop development. But Crescent could care less about that. They're just a bunch of corporate suits who are only concerned about filling their coffers."

* The Landing -- Petitions were made to the Lake Wylie Marine Commission and York County Council in 1998 to prohibit development of The Landing. Demonstrators erected a single mock tombstone on the shoreline of the development mourning the loss of clean water. The Lake Wylie Marine Commission negotiated a 50-foot buffer zone requirement, despite the fact that there were no buffer zones required for any riparian lands in York County at the time. This was the first real action by government officials requiring environmental safeguards above and beyond local regulations or zoning rules for Crescent lands.

* Stone Water Bay -- There was widespread public outrage over this Mountain Island Lake development. Creative Loafing first reported about it in June '99 when residents came out in force against the 330-home development along the Gaston County shoreline. Protestors erected four mock tombstones on the development's shoreline, and in one area of proposed development someone cut all the hydraulic lines of land clearing equipment. It was during this time that the NC Environmental Management Commission fast-tracked temporary rule making authority for buffer zones on the Catawba River. The 1999 Clean Water Bill was approved by the NC General Assembly, and on July 1, 2001 a 50-foot buffer zone became effective for all remaining undeveloped land on the mainstream of the Catawba River from Lake James to the SC border.

* Autumn Cove and Misty Waters -- These two Lake Wylie developments prompted some people to accuse Crescent of hiding their development activity through the use of third-party developers. With Misty Waters, Crescent partnered with a contractor from Walterboro, SC. With Autumn Cove, a developer from Chester, SC became the development agent. Some speculated that Crescent was partnering with other companies in order to deflect the increasing amount of public scrutiny aimed their way. "If you look at the Catawba River and how Crescent has tried to develop these high-density, inappropriate developments on drinking water reservoirs, there was a huge outcry from the public," said Catawba Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby. "Suddenly, Crescent began to sell or make arrangements with development partners so they would be on the front line, and not Crescent. The Palisades property is the latest in the Crescent saga of getting another interest to front for them to avoid the huge public outcry regarding the appropriateness of these developments."

* Eagle Crest -- The announcement of this development earlier this year came three years after Crescent was involved in a public scandal involving a pair of nesting bald eagles that took up residence in a pine tree on a Crescent lot in the South Pointe development. Crescent applied to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for an incidental take permit for 11,000 acres of bald eagle habitat on all Crescent owned land surrounding Lake James. Public outrage ensued, and The Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project filed suit appealing the issuance of the permit. Earlier this year Crescent applied to Burke County for permission to construct Eagle Crest on Lake James. There was widespread criticism from environmentalists and residents, and the Burke County commissioners imposed a six-month moratorium on Lake James for all new subdivisions. "This was upon the recommendation of our planning board," said Burke County planner Judy Francis. "We didn't really have any idea how the increasing amount of development in that watershed was affecting water quality. We wanted to take a time out to determine that if development continues at the current rate it's going, what that will do to the water." To study the situation, a land-use committee was organized in August -- consisting of realtors, conservationists, citizens, as well as representatives from Duke Power and Crescent Resources -- to help develop a master plan. "Eagle Crest was a subdivision that Crescent Resources proposed before the moratorium," Francis said. "The planning board felt like they really needed to get a better handle on some of these environmental issues before approving another large subdivision on Lake James."

* Palisades - Crescent originally proposed to develop this tract of land in August of 1999 with the input from several environmental groups. After holding two meetings with the environmental advisory panel all discussions ceased. Then this past June, Crescent announced it was partnering with Robert C. Rhein Interests to develop the project. Crescent and Rhein Interests filed a joint petition for rezoning to Mecklenburg County with no input from the environmental advisory panel. Members of the Lower Lake Wylie Association are fighting the development, saying it's too big and too close to the water. The County is expected to vote on the petition in December. If the county does not come to a decision, the entire matter will be turned over to the city January 01, 2002.

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