Housing developments along Crystal Coast waterways spark economic and environmental debate

Crystal Coast

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) — Housing developments along the Crystal Coast waterways are sparking environmental concern.

One of those developments may soon be going up in Morehead City. Despite the concern, some say this is crucial for the economy. Executive Director of Coastal Carolina Riverwatch explained what happens when we build on natural habitats adjacent to waterways.

“It’s it’s habitat loss. So you’re losing habitat that would normally be there to absorb this water coming in. You’re turning that into an impervious surface which the water is going to hit and then run right straight to the waterway collecting everything in its path. From oil, fuel, plastics, you name it,” said Rider.

These developments come as communities all across Eastern North Carolina have a need for more housing. Rider said not preserving land will exacerbate economic issues, particularly for fishermen.

“One of the top priorities for both commercial and recreational fishermen is storm water runoff. They consider it to be one of their top five water quality concerns that impact fisheries and developments included in that,” said Rider.

Executive Director of Downtown Morehead City, Lisa Rueh, said bringing more housing to the area is priceless when it comes to helping local businesses.

“So we really, really support any kind of housing, downtown just to have more options. And there’s a lot of growth going to be coming to this area,” Rueh said.

Rueh also said Downtown Morehead City’s goal is to facilitate growth, while Rider said she is a voice for the waters.

Rider explained decisions to develop on the waterfront need to be made based on the long term effects, not quick fixes.

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