While the City of Rockingham has taken on the majority of the responsibility of Hitchcock Creek, Richmond County will also play a role in the project’s success.
The beauty of Hitchcock Creek as a canoe trail is that it’s a small body of water in a pristine, rural setting, and the city along with American Rivers, a non profit group dedicated to preserving and protecting American rivers, is trying to keep it that way.
And one way the county will come in handy is through it’s watershed protection ordinance.
The rules generally apply to supply watersheds, but would also apply to the area around Hitchcock Creek that lies within the county’s jurisdiction.
County Planner James Armstrong said the county hasn’t been directly involved with the Hitchcock Creek project; the only thing he was asked to do was sign off on a non-impact regulation for the flood plain area where the Steele’s Mill Dam was removed.
Armstrong said the flood plain regulations will help with regulating development along the creek. It won’t prevent development, per se, but it will restrict where and what kind of things developers can build.
The county doesn’t have a designated corridor in place to prevent development, but it’s watershed ordinance will help in preserving the area around watersheds because there are specific rules, in accordance with state regulation, regarding buffer zones and set backs.
About half of the Hitchcock Creek trail runs through Rockingham and during the city council meeting Jan. 12, the council voted to spend $52,613 on 1.8 acres at Roberdel Dam. The land will be used as a place for people to put their canoes in the water.
During that same meeting, City Manager Monty Crump told the board other groups have invested $1 million to acquire land adjacent to the creek and remove the Steele’s Mill Dam and some property owners along the creek are coming forward and offering to donate their land for the project.
Staff writer Eren Tataragasi can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.