SLLA Debris Site Set to Reopen

The footprint where the approved yard debris transfer pile will be located. The new location is at the back of the site. A French drain system was also installed to ensure the yard debris pile will not sit in storm water runoff. Photo Contributed by Heather Guild

By Maggie Beamguard

Insider Editor

The community yard debris site in Seven Lakes North will be ready to receive piles of pinecones, brush and other yard waste from residents by mid-July.

The debris site was closed on April 25 upon mandate by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). This action followed an inspection that was prompted by an anonymous call to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding concerns that property management crews had been involved in illegal dumping.

Seven Lakes Landowners Association board members have worked closely with the NCDEQ and Moore County officials to ensure the debris site is operating to the satisfaction of all parties. 

One initial step involved reconciling a glitch with how the site was designated on the county’s Geospatial Information Services (GIS) Map. The GIS map had a tax boundary line that the state interpreted as a property line. “We had to untangle that,” said SLLA board president Heather Guild.

In terms of county regulation, there were no issues regarding the operation of the yard debris site. “They gave us that thumbs up pretty early, I would say within the first month of this ordeal, and then the GIS map issue took a little bit longer to iron out,” said Guild. 

NCDEQ has regulations for how far a yard debris site needs to be away from the nearest boundary line.

“The parcel that the yard debris site is on is one huge parcel, so there was no property line that was near where the site is. We were getting a different tax classification for the yard, again proving that everybody knew this thing had been in existence for a long time,” said Guild, who is pleased by how well the two government entities worked together to resolve the issue.

While no fines or penalties were issued for the site, the NCDEQ did require some changes. Thirty years of activity at the site caused the area closest to the downstream side of the dam to expand, infringing on the natural tree line by a significant amount. 

One section of the SLLA yard debris site that NCDEQ required to be reclaimed after over 30 years of waste encroaching on the wooded area behind the site. The request to reclaim the natural area required over 40 truckloads of debris to be removed. Contributed by Heather Guild

“We had to pull all that back from the woodland area. it was probably close to 50 to 60 feet in length and 20 to 30 feet in width and up to about 12 feet deep that we had to pull everything back,” said Guild. 

To reclaim the buffer zone between the yard debris site and the dam, around 40 truckloads of debris and soil were hauled off property to be disposed of at the Moore County Landfill at a cost of $36,000. 

Upon inspection of the site on June 20, NCDEQ officials expressed satisfaction with the progress made and encouraged the SLLA to send their application for a permit. The application was sent the following day. Approval of the permit was granted on Tuesday, June 25 contingent on final filling and grading where the old yard debris pile used to sit. 

The fill material consisting of 40 to 60 truckloads of a clay and sand mixture will be trucked in, packed down and graded to a natural grade where the debris site used to sit. 

The previous location was an issue. “It was this big bowl. What would happen is all the storm water would come down the hill and then sit where the yard debris site pile was. And that’s what NCDEQ was always worried about from the very beginning. It wasn’t manure. It wasn’t the wood chips. It was the fact that this big pile of yard debris was — not obviously this month — but sitting in like a mini pond of water,” said Guild. 

“And then as the debris would degrade, it would create leachate, their fancy term for toxins and things like that, which would then go into the area behind the dam.”

In addition to changing the location of the debris pile from the center of the parcel of land, a French drain system was also installed to ensure the yard debris pile will not sit in stormwater runoff. 

Going above and beyond the requirements of NCDEQ, two silt fences were also installed as well as seed and straw to mitigate any erosion going to the back of the dam. 

“They were very pleased,” said Guild of the NCDEQ officials who gave SLLA the go ahead to submit the permit. Once the filling and grading is complete NCDEQ will be contacted for a final inspection, and Guild anticipates they will tick off the final box of requirements. 

Funding of $40,000 for the final phase of work was approved by the board on Thursday, June 27. All funds for the work at the site come from unrestricted reserves. “We don’t want to take too many of these kinds of hits, but this is something we could easily manage with unrestricted reserves. So it will not come out of the operating budget,” said Guild.

The practice of providing manure from 7 Lakes Stables and woodchips created from maintenance of communal areas for resident use will be discontinued.

The board will also refer to the site as a “yard waste transfer station,” a term that more accurately describes the purpose of the amenity. Transfer of debris to the Moore County Landfill will continue every three or four weeks. 

Once the site reopens it will return to normal operating hours. From March 15 to October 15, the site is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. From October 15 through March 15 the site operates on the same hours except it closes at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Contact Maggie Beamguard at