Town asks county to consider water tank, reapply for permit
The town of Weddington doesn’t want a water tower after all. During their Monday, Sept. 19 meeting, town council members voted unanimously to rescind their earlier approval of a proposed water tower. Residents had lined up to speak about the issue during public comments, saying that there needs to be another solution to water pressure problems and the county needs to pay for it.
“You’re punishing us and our property values,” Weddington resident Craig Hurt, who lives just below the proposed site, said. Instead of a tower, Hurt suggested the county pay for ground storage tanks and a pump station.
“The county can pay for this,” Hurt said. “They have the money to do this, they just choose not to.”
The water tower was scheduled to be built at 247 Providence Road South, part of a 9 acre lot. Public Works officials wanted to use the 1.5 million gallon tower to improve static pressure and fire flow in the western portion of Union County during peak demand.
Town attorney Anthony Foxx said Weddington’s rules of procedure gives the authority to reconsider this decision, as the county had not yet agreed to the stated terms. The town council’s approval was conditional on the county turning over 5 acres of the property to use as a park. Negotiations on that point had not finished by the time of the vote.
“I’m glad to see the town council listened to the people of Weddington and rescinded their approval,” Stratford on Providence homeowners association president Barbara Harrison said. Harrison and her fellow residents said they understood the need for water, but just asked that a tank be used, so they didn’t have to see it driving by.
Only 18 percent of the Weddington’s 73 subdivisions have fire hydrants. Additionally, 80 percent of homes use wells instead of county water. Of the town’s subdivisions, 60 of the 73 use only well water. However in the northern part of the town, water pressure during the low demand portions of the day barely meets the minimum requirements for fire departments to use hydrants. At peak demand times, there’s no guarantee the hydrants would have enough pressure to pump out the water.
Earlier this month, county commissioners indicated they were open to the idea of changing to a water tank, with the understanding the town would have to share in the increased cost.
A ground level tank would raise the cost of the project to $6.18 million, $1.5 million more than a water tower. The reason for that is the fact the tower’s height helps direct and guide water flow. Ground level tanks would require a pump station. Also included in their vote, the town council offered to cover the operating costs of a pump station and tank, taking $20,000 a year for 10 years out of their general fund. In exchange, the county would turn over the 5 acres of land for open space, not a park as previously asked.
“This would not provide a deed,” Foxx cautioned the board, explaining that if the county reapplied and agreed to terms, it would just provide the town with a right to use the property, as long as the county operates a tank and pump station there.
At the county meeting later that night, commissioners heard from Union County Public Works Director Ed Goscicki, who said his department had not completed any design work or projections for a water tank. As such, he couldn’t guarantee the current site was the best to use for a water tank and there might need to be other areas examined. The county will discuss water tank options with the Weddington town board at their Oct. 10 joint meeting.