State settles agreement over plans for public park in Asheville


State officials and an environmental group have successfully settled a legal challenge involving a property in Asheville that is being transformed into a public park.

In March, Enka Partners of Asheville, LLC, entered into a brownfields agreement with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The agreement allows Enka Partners to safely convert a former industrial landfill into a public park with greenways and ballfields.

Mountain True, a nonprofit environmental organization, challenged the brownfields agreement and filed its case in the spring with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings. On Friday, officials with the state environmental agency and Mountain True resolved the case amicably without the need for a hearing.

“This mediation gave the department and Mountain True an opportunity to ensure the brownfields agreement is carried out in a manner both parties could agree is protective of public health and the environment,” said Michael Scott, who directs the state division that houses the Brownfields program. “We both want this project to succeed because it will represent a win for the local economy and a great recreational opportunity for the community to enjoy.”

In settling the case, DEQ agreed to include in the brownfields property notice recorded with the Buncombe County Register of Deeds the latest sampling results from environmental tests at the site and information about how the public can easily access redevelopment plans and other information associated with the brownfields agreement online or by contacting the Brownfields Program directly. Most brownfields agreements contain certain land use restrictions which can include limitations on public access, but DEQ agreed Friday to allow for the inclusion of more stringent requirements for fencing and signage to restrict public access to certain previously accessible portions of the property. Also, DEQ will correct errors related to the property boundaries and acreages that were made in the original brownfields agreement.  

A brownfields agreement allows companies to redevelop properties that may have been underused or abandoned because of previous environmental contamination. Prospective developers cannot have caused or contributed to the contamination, but can redevelop the property after agreeing to carry out state-required actions to make the property safe for the proposed reuse.

In Asheville, BASF Corporation used to operate an industrial landfill at the site, which sat next to its former plant. The landfill, which was used to store construction waste, fly ash and other wastes, was closed a decade ago. The brownfields agreement requires Enka Partners to keep a safe soil cover over any waste in the landfill during redevelopment; maintain the structural integrity of the landfill and its environmental monitoring systems; ensure the groundwater monitoring network surrounding the former landfill is maintained and monitored during redevelopment and in the years afterwards, and notify the state of any changes detected during routine air or water quality monitoring at the site. 

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