Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Charlotte, Raleigh: Another big difference

Reading Liz Leland’s and Bruce Henderson’s fine stories and seeing John Simmons’ great photographs about the Catawba River in the Observer this week reminds me of one more stark difference between Charlotte and Raleigh: Development along the lakes.
There are many differences, of course, between the state’s two population centers – political, cultural and on and on. But it struck me that the series about development in the Catawba River basin, and particularly along the shores of the lakes constructed by Duke Energy throughout much of the 20th century such as Lake Hickory and Lake Norman, is in stark contrast to what you see along the shores of the main water supply lakes near the state capital.
The Catawba lakes are experiencing extraordinary development -- including the construction of many mansions. The bigger lakes near Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill have very little development and like will stay that way.
They’re not in private hands, and the three principal lakes’ shorelines were not and are not up for development. About 55 miles to the north of Raleigh, the state’s largest lake by far is Kerr Lake on the Roanoke River – straddling the Virginia border, and the best fishing and sailing lake near Raleigh. It’s a Corps of Engineers project with a hydroelectric dam, built in part for recreation and flood control as well as water supply, too. Its shoreline prohibits development on the water itself, though clearly houses have been built away from the lake and some private lakeside docks exist.
Two other projects – Falls Lake on the Neuse River 10 miles north of Raleigh, and B. Everett Jordan Dam and Lake on the Cape Fear River about 15 miles to the southeast – also prohibit development along the shoreline, and so far it’s still hard to see many houses from the lakes themselves.
That’s not to say there aren’t water quality questions about Jordan Lake. Those problems were predicted long ago, before the lake was built. But for fishers, swimmers, campers and boaters on those lakes, there’s still a sense that the lakes belong to the public. And if you really want to be along with nature, anchor out overnight in one of the hundreds and hundreds of isolated coves on Kerr Lake. It’s like being a thousand miles away.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

it sounds to me like duke was a land grabber who took advantage of the local farmers, who knew they had to sell anyway, and somebody like me, who cleans pools for a living, was cheated out of hundreds of acres of land. but i guess that would be too sensitive to comment on, and, we did have our chance, back in the seventies, to buy back our land for 5 grand an acre, but we didn't have that then, most of us, so Duke becomes the defacto real estate salesmen for the largest lake in NC. that's just great. meanwhile, i'm going back to community college to try and make a living because i'm no longer a landowner/farmer. should have grown up around raleigh i guess, but the govt. probably stole that land too.

Anonymous said...

This place needs to persuade SC and NC to work together to build a new 6 lane major interstate straight to Myrtle Beach since much of its tourism money comes from here. Dukes overcrowded artificial lake dont cut it.
With a major interstate to the beach the time getting there could be as shortened to 3 hrs flat at 70mph. This is long long long overdue.
The differences between Charlotte and Raleigh are frivilous otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I have had to hear about how much more "progressive" and "better" the RDU area is versus Charlotte since my days at UNC Chapel Hill. I grew tired of it then, and it wearies me just as much now. Both areas have wonderful things going for them. But Triangle boosters like Betts will never see that. Instead, they will always compare Charlotte to Raleigh in an unflattering way. A pretentious snob is a pretentious snob is a pretentious snob. Get over yourself please, Mr.Betts.

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