Washington Politics in Weddington

Citizens of Weddington are continually thankful for the candid exposure of wrong or unexplainable decisions made by businesses and sometimes political officials in the area. One of the most political and troubling decisions made Aug. 8 centered around a Town Hall meeting in Weddington. The crowd of several hundred residents of Weddington attended the meeting to protest the proposal of a monster 200 ft water tank being proposed by Union County at the intersection of Rea and Providence Road. Residential zoning would have to be changed to allow the monster tank in what is considered to be a scenic residential area with no commercialism and exceptional aesthetic values. Only the Weddington Town Council could approve rezoning to make way for the Monster Tank which was being “hard pressed” by Union County.
Union County investigated and proposed additional water tanks in 2005 given their projected growth and the potential revenue stream from the supply of water to communities. Since 2008 and the housing crisis, thousands of homes in Union County and Weddington sit empty, vacant and deserted. Why would Union County choose this time to force a monster water tank in a residential area in Weddington? Their projection of growth would over the years only fill homes currently vacant! In a struggling economy, what could be the logic of spending excessive money on a Monster Tank not needed and protested by citizens?
An even bigger and more troubling question is why would the Weddington Town Council agree to accommodate Union County by rezoning a major intersection that is now accented by residential homes and create a monster tank for all to see – A change to commercial zoning that could in the future create commercial slums in a town that is top rated for residential aesthetics. Rezoning of Rea Road and Providence intersection predictably can open the flood gates bringing in strip shopping centers, manufacturing, sewage treatment centers and landfills.

History of the monster tank efforts
Approximately three years earlier as the economy nose dived into recession, Union County stepped up efforts to force a Monster tank on Weddington residents. As many as a dozen or more prime sites were presented to the Weddington Town Council by Union County representatives. The site approved at the Aug. 8 town council meeting was not on the proposed list. How the site became the final choice defies all logic. History tends to sometimes provide understanding of how bad decisions become rational.
As the pressure increased by Union County on the Weddington Town Council to accept a Monster water tank proposal, the long list of sites narrowed down to three top sites with a new site added for a fourth! Flash forward to today to understand what happened to the top three.
Land adjacent to the Rea View Elementary School is owned by Union County. No land expenditures necessary. Throughout the country, water tanks and schools co-exist! However, one person spoke of potential injury threats to school children by an above ground water tank. The Rea View site was immediately discarded and eliminated as an option.
An eighty acre land site adjacent to Weddington Methodist Church became a top choice. The land was owned by financial developers who hired a lawyer to help guarantee that the site would remain free of a monster tank invasion. Perhaps the threat of owners to shoot holes in the tank became a serious factor? Doubtful.
Throughout this country, water tanks are included in Town Hall areas. A prime example is the Stallings tank, a neighbor of Weddington. Officials again buckled and refused the site because of the effect it would have on the “historic town hall” and adjacent Methodist Church Cemetery. Reasoning is varied but those on the outside looking in must understand that the dead have rights of safety and aesthetic surroundings? Hundreds of Weddington citizens affected by further eroding of property value and family safety need to be more understanding of “cemetery rights”? The now affected Baptist Church with the proposed Monster in their back yard should not be overly concerned about their aesthetics and “live” members!
Two rejected proposed sites with engineered drawings and site reservations created a cost to date of approximately $200,000. The $200,000 expenditures accomplished 0 results!! Today, the proposed cost of actually building the tank (not needed in today’s economic environment) comes in at over 4 Million plus land to be purchased!
Further devaluation of homes previously affected by the recession and housing debacle makes the Monster Tank site more devastating. The Providence Acres sub division along with the Weddington Baptist Church will have the Monster in their back yards. Please note: Providence Acres (like the vast majority of Weddington housing areas) is on well water and remains opposed to County offers!
If confused and stunned, please take time to interact with the Weddington Town Council and Union County Water Officials. They perhaps can explain why Washington Politics is the model chosen. Please note that Town Council member Werner Thomisser was the council member against the Monster Tank Proposal. He made a valiant effort!
Richard Karriker

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  1. There has been much debate about the proposed water tower. As a resident of the Providence Acres subdivision I will be directly affected by the placement of this tower 1,000 ft from my home. As will my neighbors, and surrounding subdivisions. Providence Acres is on well and septic systems and currently do not have access to the county’s water system.

    I have attended many Weddington Town Council Meeting and Union County Board of Commissioners meetings regarding the proposed water tower and I have yet to hear anyone say that they “want a tower in their backyard”. It’s been made clear by the response from feedback and previous attempts that this is not the best solution. To the casual observer it’s easy to say “get over it, it’s just a water tower”. Until it’s right behind your home and reduces YOUR property value.

    There is a plan available to put a low level ground storage tank system in place. It’s affect on the surrounding areas would be minimal. Yes, it’s more expensive. But the facts are that Union County has set precedent by capping the waste water treatment tanks and installing air scrubbers at the 12 Mile Creek WWTF in Waxhaw. In 2008 Union County spent $4.7 million dollars to eliminate the smell for the residents surrounding this site. A site that was built, and operational prior to the land being developed around it.
    Weddington’s leaders denied the rezoning of the county’s PRIMARY location because it did not meet all the specific 5 criteria as stated by the land use guide. Also because of heavy pressure from Weddington Methodist Church. Once this site was voted down, the council then changed the rules and voted to eliminate the 5 criteria requirement. Meaning they changed the rules. So the next site on the list, not the best site, just the the next site didn’t stand a chance. Does this sound straightforward? Is this how you would like to be treated if you had a concern about your home and it’s value?

    The current site is surrounded by R-40/RCD zoned property, meaning residential communities. We live, pay taxes and spend money in this town just like everyone else. Shouldn’t our voices be heard?
    I am not opposed to a water tank system being placed on this site. Our neighbors in Rose Hill should be provided adequate water pressure. This is a equitable solution that solves many problems.
    The Weddington Town Council has a chance to make this right on Monday September 19th at 6:00 p.m during the town council meeting. There is a motion to review and possibly rescind the vote for the water tower. I encourage the town council to deny the zoning for this site. And work with the county to build a tank storage system. In my opinion, this is a county issue, and should be paid for by the users. The county’s enterprise fund is revenue from users after costs for delivery of the water are paid. It exists for capital improvement projects, just like this. To be clear, it is not a tax based account. Only the people that use the water pay into this account. It has also been stated that using this money would not likely result in a fee increase.

    This issue will return to Weddington in the near future. The director of public works has stated that will be a need for additional storage throughout the system…meaning another tower. Next time it could be you.