Two communities eagerly await water tower decision

WEDDINGTON – With many residents from Waybridge and Providence Woods South speaking out against the proposed Hemby Road water tower, there are some who just want to move forward with the process to ensure their basic needs are met.

For almost seven years, residents in the Rose Hill and Stratford Hall subdivisions have seen water pressure slowly decrease as more development continues to pop up in the area.  Officials with the county’s utilities department say an above-ground water tower constructed nearby will fix the problem, and the Weddington Town Council is now discussing a proposed 1.5 million gallon water tower for the third time.

For residents in Rose Hill and Stratford Hall, it’s not about location, size or any other factor for a water tower project – they just want consistently adequate water pressure in their homes.

“It’s getting progressively worse, so our concern is more that we are 18 to 20 months out for all of this construction and development,” Rose Hill resident Dawn Panzeca said.  “In the meantime, developments are going up around us.”

Pressure in the communities isn’t consistently low, with many fluctuations up and down. But during the peak hours, like a Saturday afternoon, Panzeca said it’s nearly impossible to run the washing machine, wash dishes or even take a shower.

“You can have the water pressure drop to such a degree that it’s almost impossible to take a shower on certain floors,” she said.  “That doesn’t mean it happens all of the time,” but it’s unpredictable.

Some residents, like Robert Gunst, have even had to add a well to their property just to supply the water for irrigation purposes.  Although that has helped to water lawns, the well water cannot be tied into the Union County Public Works water lines and used to supply additional pressure to the home.

For Panzeca and Gunst, this is the third time they and other members of their community have been through the process of trying to get a new water tower approved in Weddington – something they say has caused many of their neighbors to lose hope one will ever be constructed.

“It’s been an interesting process for us because we show up every time. … For us it’s the same thing over and over again,” Panzeca said.  “Our thing is, let’s get ahead of this thing before it’s a crisis proportion, which is going to happen sooner or later.”

But Gunst said no matter what location the county pursues, there will always be a group of residents who are opposed.

“No matter what the decision is or when it’s made, it has to be made. It’s going to upset some group,” he said.

Despite the opposition to the tower on Hemby Road, behind the Providence Volunteer Fire Department, residents experiencing water pressure issues have made some progress over the past seven or so years as discussions about the need for the water tower have continued.  According to Gunst, some residents and council members in Weddington were questioning whether there even was a need for a water tower during initial discussions. Now the question is no longer whether some residents need additional pressure, just where the 179-foot tower will be located.

“It always boils down to a very simple thing – not in my backyard,” Gunst said.

But after so many years of trying to get a new water tower approved, residents in Rose Hill and Stratford Hall just want one thing – the approval of a water tower and a step in fixing the problems they face on a daily basis.

“Our argument is a very simple one.  We are not getting an adequate basic necessity that we pay taxes for,” Panzeca said.  “… So it’s confounding to me to have people who are taxpayers who are not getting what they are paying for.”

Weddington Town Council is planning to hold a public hearing for the proposed water tower on Oct. 14, a Monday, at 7 p.m. during the regular town council meeting.  The meeting will take place at Weddington Town Hall, 1924 Weddington Road, and council could take a vote that night on whether or not to approve the conditional use permit for the proposed water tower.

Opposition to the tower has focused on whether the tower itself would be a safety hazard in extreme weather, and if it would be an eyesore that negative affects their property values.

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