Pinebluff, County Try to Resolve Sewer Line Issue
Pinebluff town officials want more influence when it comes to the infrastructure process within their boundaries.
That's the explanation provided by town attorney T.C. Morphis when asked about difficulties arising from a sewer line being built to serve a Pinebluff area industry.
"We'd like this project to go through," said Morphis, a Chapel Hill attorney, in a Tuesday morning telephone interview. "It may be helpful to the town."
Morphis said the issue of the sewer line route and the easement "opened the town's eyes" to matters affecting the town's jurisdiction.
"The town wants to be an active participant," Morphis said.
Moore County Manager Cary McSwain has been asked to attend the Thursday meeting of the Pinebluff Town Board of Commissioners to discuss the sewer line issue and resulting misunderstandings.
"We hope it will be a good, productive meeting," Morphis said.
State Rep. Jamie Boles has also expressed concern about the difficulties the county has encountered in running the sewer line through Pinebluff town boundaries to serve an industry that needs the infrastructure improvement.
Boles has introduced local legislation protecting Pinebluff town property for future use as parkland and other municipal purposes. The bill has passed the state House of Representatives and is slated for action in the Senate this week.
"Every time they do something or reach a compromise, there's another obstacle," Boles said, noting that the county has been working on the sewer line expansion since 2009.
Boles said he is also concerned about economic development grants the town has received to encourage expansion of the industry and the creation of jobs.
The industry is ATEX Technologies, a company that makes fabrics, filaments and mesh for medical devices and surgical procedures. The company wants to expand its Pinebluff plant but cannot do so without extension of sewer lines.
Two economic grants were awarded by the state to provide $885,000, enabling the county to extend the sewer line to serve ATEX and other properties along the way. To claim the grants, ATEX promised to remain in Moore County and retain 71 existing jobs and to hire another 30 employees once the expansion is complete.
Morphis said that a problem with the original route for the sewer line has been resolved. The problem now is that the town wants more control over the changes proposed within its jurisdiction.
At a recent meeting of the county commissioners, McSwain reported that the town has adopted a franchise ordinance and wants to charge a fee for granting the easement to the county for the sewer line. Traditionally, such easements are granted without payment of fees.
Although the county-owned wastewater treatment plant is located a few miles south of Pinebluff, most of the town's businesses and residences use septic systems, according to Morphis. The town is officially tied in with the county wastewater treatment plant at Addor, but he said service is limited because of insufficient sewer lines within town limits.
The original route for the sewer line was changed after residents complained that it would require removal of too many trees along a popular residential street. However, the new route directs the line through town property, including parkland, which requires an easement from the municipality.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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