Options for Water Discussed at Seven Lakes Meeting
County officials explained options for water and redistricting Thursday during a meeting in Seven Lakes.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Seven Lakes Community Council co-hosted the meeting. The commissioners also discussed zoning and the land-use plan update currently under way during the meeting held at the West Side Community Center in Seven Lakes West.
One option on water — a tie-in with the proposed North West Moore Water District — could require a referendum.
The county’s largest unincorporated development is expected to grow from its present 6,365 population to more than 10,000 by 2040, and water demand will grow accordingly, Seven Lake residents were told.
Public Works Director Randy Gould said Seven Lakes has 2,540 water line connections and has an average daily demand for about 430,000 gallons. The maximum demand is about double that.
“It’s always been our intent to have a second source of water for Seven Lakes,” said Commissioner Larry Caddell, who has represented the county in a series of water negotiation sessions in recent years.
Caddell was responding to a comment from Darrell Marks, who pointed out that other than three wells, the community’s only link to “all this water” is a 12-inch line from Pinehurst.
Gould gave a presentation showing outlines of the county’s water system, as well as the East Moore Water District.
East Moore buys water from Harnett County, which also sells water for service to Pinehurst and Seven Lakes. The county also buys water from Southern Pines and Aberdeen to supplement a water supply otherwise dependent upon wells.
The purchase of more water from Harnett County is among the options being explored to serve the rapidly growing Seven Lakes area. Other options include Asheboro, Sanford, the WestPoint Stevens facility near Wagram in Scotland County and, of course, Robbins.
Gould reviewed the opportunities and possible deficiencies with each of those options, including potential problems with the interbasin transfer permitting system administered by the state. The state requires a permit for any transfer from one river basin to another if the transfer exceeds 2 million gallons daily.
Although wells provide the least expensive option, they are not regarded as all that effective in many areas of the county, including Seven Lakes, where more than a dozen wells have been closed because of insufficient flow or contamination by natural elements. Only three wells now function in Seven Lakes.
Gould credited Chris Koltyk and his GIS (geographic information system) department with help in developing maps showing the location of wells and water lines across the county. Other maps showed possible routing for future water lines to Seven Lakes from potential sources.
Factors to be considered include the Heart of North Carolina MegaPark and the Pine Forest development. The park, to be developed on land straddling the Moore and Montgomery county line, is expected to create jobs along with incentives for infrastructure improvements that would benefit the entire area. Gould said grant opportunities will be explored by the park leadership.
Pine Forest, which recently received rezoning approval, may add several hundred households and hotel rooms by the time it is developed. Located southeast of West End, Pine Forest developers need a water source and have offered $3 million to pay for a water line from a source other than the county.
At present, the county system has plenty of water to serve Seven Lakes, but emphasis was placed on the need to find supplementary sources for future growth.
County leaders are continuing talks with Robbins in negotiations to use town facilities for the North West Moore Water District and/or service to Seven Lakes.
North West Moore Water District did not attract a sufficient number of prospective customers after voters approved a $16 million bond issue in 2004. In the hope that Seven Lakes might provide the needed number of customers, the county secured an extension of that bond issue until May 2014.
Rural water districts do not include municipal systems, but it would be possible for the district to buy water through a municipal system, provided the Robbins facilities could be upgraded and enlarged and agreement could be reached by the county and the town.
If the county and the town decide to take that route, then a referendum will be called to determine if Seven Lakes wants to join the district.
Options for redistricting the geographical areas making up the board’s residency boundaries were also presented. One option would split the Seven Lakes community into two districts.
However, the county’s districts are residency districts, which means that candidates for county commissioner must reside within a specific geographical area, but all voters, regardless of their place of residence, may vote on all five commissioners.
County officials explained the residency district process, and Koltyk displayed maps of prospective changes in district lines. Koltyk prepared five options for redistricting in which he used numbers by dividing the county’s 88,247 population into five areas of about 17,649 residents per district.
A sixth option later developed would split the Seven Lakes area, including McLendon Hills, into two districts.
Board Chairman Nick Picerno explained that the county’s system requires the commissioners to live within a specific area but are voted on countywide. His own district now includes both Pinehurst and Seven Lakes, meaning that it is now too large for an equitable distribution of the population.
“It does not matter where we live,” Commissioner Tim Lea said. “We represent every person in Moore County.”
The group briefly discussed the land-use plan update. Assistant Planning Director Debra Ensminger said her department is working on a process for appointing members of a land-use plan steering committee and said Seven Lakes representation would be welcome.
Commissioner Jimmy Melton, who chairs the county transportation committee, added that the land-use plan is important because it serves as a guide for future road planning by the N.C. Depart-ment of Transportation.
The Greater Seven Lakes Community Council includes representation by the Business Guild, Homeowners Association, Landowners Association and the McLendon Hills Association.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at florence @thepilot.com.
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