County Outlines Village Utility Projects
Much of the discussion at a joint meeting between the Pinehurst Village Council and Moore County Board of Commissioners Thursday was dedicated to the county's current and future water and sewer projects in the village.
County Manager Cary McSwain and County Public Works Director Dennis Brobst walked the council through the projects that are currently under way and others that are on the docket.
The construction of five sewer lift stations around Lake Pinehurst generated a lot of questions from the council, which indicated residents living near the sites have expressed concerns about the projects. Many have complained about noise and appearance of the construction sites.
County officials maintained that the lift station projects are difficult, and asked residents to bear with it as it moved forward.
Mayor Ginsey Fallon said communication with the residents is key, and she encouraged the county to keep in contact with them. The county indicated staff has done so, and the commissioners made site visits to see the -construction firsthand.
"There is a tremendous amount of contact going on right now to make sure that these questions are being responded to," Board Chairman Tim Lea said.
McSwain said the stations are to be "substantially completed" by Sept. 8, with everything to be finished in October.
Construction of a 500,000-gallon elevated water tank on Monticello Road is progressing and is expected to be completed in September, McSwain said. The tank will replace two tanks near the Carolina Hotel and is designed to relieve pressure -fluctuations within the system, which have caused water main breaks.
"This tank represents a significant improvement to our water system," McSwain said.
The county is expecting wells 5A and 9, located on Pinehurst No. 2, to be online by December. It expects to begin the replacement of 35 old fire hydrants in Old Town on July 12.
In the future, the county will make a hydraulic model of the village's water system in order to identify and prioritize problem spots that need to be fixed.The county estimates the total cost of all water system improvements will cost between $6 and $8 million.
It will also rehabilitate or replace about 11.2 miles of sewer line in Old Town for about $5.5 million.
The project includes the addition of about 78 manholes and the rehabilitation of 132. It is also planning to complete slip-lining around Lake Pinehurst for $1.2 million.
Other questions from the council were more general, related to water supply and demand and management of the projects.
Near the end of the meeting, Fallon asked why the county wasn't interested in pursuing the possible utilization of water and wastewater treatment plants that formerly served a Westpoint-Pepperell mill near Wagram in Scotland County.
The village made a bid to purchase the facilities for $5.5 million on its own last year. Recently, the county declined to contribute $2,500 for a regional feasibility study on the plants. That matter was not discussed.
Lea explained that based on information that the county had received, it would have to pay $6 to $8 per 1,000 gallons of water from Wagram, much higher than other contracts it currently has in place.
He said the commissioners -didn't believe that was a good business decision, and added that the board was unanimous on that.
"It got down to us making a good business decision or making a political decision," he said. "The board decided to make a good business decision. We're not going to play politics on this issue."
Commissioner Larry Caddell added that a lot of options for water are on the table, but he believes the Robbins treatment plant is still the best solution for the West End/Seven Lakes area.
"I think before we do anything major, we need to make sure that we've exhausted the options at Robbins," he said, adding that the county is waiting on Robbins' decision. Lea said that the county remains active in conversations with other providers in the meantime.
Resolving Legal Conflict
Thursday's meeting followed both parties signing a "memorandum of understanding" that outlines a "framework for further discussions and negotiations" between them to address and resolve legal and operational issues regarding utility projects in the village.
The memo acknowledges a -disagreement between the -village and county over whether the county is subject to provisions of the Pinehurst Development Ordinance and Engineering Standards Manual. The memo calls for the two parties to find a mutually agreeable set of standards to resolve that conflict.
According to the memo, in further discussions between the village staff and the county's engineering staff, a neutral engineer will be present to determine whether the two parties "can reach an agreement on a streamlined process and standards to be applied to the construction of utility projects by the county within the village's municipal boundaries and its extraterritorial jurisdiction." It calls for that process to be collaborative and include village input.
They will also work on developing a new encroachment agreement with respect to county utility projects located within a village right of way.
According to Village Manager Andy Wilkison, the current encroachment agreement, signed in the 1990s, is between the village and the now-defunct Moore Water and Sewer Authority, which operated county utilities at the time.
The ultimate goal of the memo is to resolve "all current and future utility issues" between the two parties. Both pledge "to develop and maintain a good-faith and open dialogue."
The county board approved the memo on June 21, while the council followed suit on July 6.
Contact John Krahnert III by e-mail at email@example.com.
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