WEDDINGTON – Weddington’s new town council hit the ground running during the Dec. 9 meeting, when Mayor Bill Deter, Mayor Pro Tem Don Titherington and Councilman Michael Smith took their places on the council.
The new council had a full plate for its first meeting, discussing items such as the final plat for Lake Forest Preserve, changes to the rules for the public’s address to the council, the structure of the public safety committee, a resolution in response to recent changes announced by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and, perhaps most importantly to many residents, a letter to the Union County Board of Commissioners in hopes of opening discussions about water pressure issues and more during its first meeting with new members.
Although the previous council in Weddington approved the location for the water tower on Hemby Road behind the Providence Volunteer Fire Department a few weeks before the election, Deter would like to sit down with the county to discuss the possibility of changing the location of the tower or using ground storage as an alternative to the nearly 180-foot water tower.
“The letter is pretty self explanatory,” Deter said of the town’s communication to county leaders. “Obviously we had several big issues during the election, so I felt very obligated that (since) three of the five members of Weddington leadership were replaced with new people, by a pretty large margin, I just wanted to reach out and see what can be reconsidered here.”
The letter was approved by a tie vote that was broken by the mayor. Councilwomen Pamela Hadley and Barbara Harrison opposed, saying that they were not given a copy of the letter prior to the meeting for review. Hadley and Harrison voted in favor of the tower’s planned location earlier this year.
“I understand that they are trying to address campaign issues, issues that they ran on in the campaign,” Hadley said. “I understand that. Having been in office for two years, I also understand the importance of being able to work with elected leaders of our surrounding municipalities and the county, and I question whether sending a contentious or controversial letter to the county will result in a good working relationship.”
The county had not responded to Deter by Union County Weekly’s press deadline, on Wednesday, Dec. 18, he said.
Council also approved the “Resolution to Address the Recent NCDOT Policy Change” with a tie vote. The resolution states that the town does not intend to take over any new roads in subdivisions following NCDOT’s announcement that it will no longer take over maintenance of new subdivision roads. Hadley and Harrison opposed.
Town Manager Jordan Cook is currently working with town staff to develop additions to the town’s ordinances that will lay out a plan for the maintenance for new roads, which could be maintained by the homeowners’ association in the development or a third party.
With a lot happening at the new council’s first meeting, at least one veteran council member is concerned with how items that will impact town residents were passed.
“What is disappointing to me are the three documents that were presented, two that passed, without anyone including the public having the opportunity to review, much less see, before voting on,” Hadley said. “… Those documents were not provided in the packet, or a hard copy. I think that it was very disappointing that a vote was required on those three items.”
After listening to concerns from fellow councilmembers, Deter hopes this trend doesn’t continue in the future, and said since he was not mayor prior to the meeting he didn’t have a chance to give input on what items were included on the agenda. Deter was sworn in after the beginning of the meeting.
“I agree that we’d like to have all of the documents in peoples’ hands. This was kind of an odd situation; not being mayor, I can’t really do anything about the agenda,” he said. “… It’s time to work together, and I think the whole council felt, yeah, these documents didn’t come together in time to be in the agenda, but we are going to work on that.”
Town council did vote unanimously to defer a vote on the “Memorandum of Understanding with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department” to review the document since it was not provided prior to the meeting. The town recently entered an agreement to purchase the fire department’s building and enter a 10-year agreement for service.