by Frank Cappella
On Dec. 2, the Union County Board of Commissioners voted to raise rates on water and sewer a whopping 33%.
Increasing water rates will be just one byproduct, as residents of Union County had repeatedly warned commissioners about the dangers of dreadful planning and the fiscal ramifications of uncontrolled, destructive high-density development built upon collapsing infrastructure in western Union County.
These warnings to the county and towns of Waxhaw, Indian Trail and Stallings went completely ignored. Now it’s time for residents to start paying up.
While Union County residents will be forced to pay this 33% increase, what residents won’t tolerate is blatant hypocrisy. Except for Commissioner Richard Helms, the county and these towns have been playing a high-density shell game with residents.
It should be notated that Mr. Helms and Commissioner Stony Rushing voted no to the increase. However, since the Dec. 2 vote, Mr. Rushing has excoriated his fellow commissioners and lamenting that Union County residents will be burdened with this massive rate increase.
Residents would like to point out a few issues regarding Commissioner Rushing.
First and most obvious, Mr. Rushing has openly admitted to being one of the biggest advocates of this ruinous high-density development push. High-density building is designed to centralize usage and be efficient when implemented correctly, with supporting infrastructure. Conversely, irresponsible high-density development and terrible long-term planning, like here in Union County, can lead to things like higher rates and many other issues. As just one example, it is common knowledge among residents that Union County roads are totally failing, overrun with traffic and in no position to support any type of high-density development.
To that point, our commissioners and these town representatives fully understood the NC Department of Transportation was dead broke during their high-density push. So broke, that the agency needed a bailout from Raleigh. Months ago, this insolvency led to DOT canceling many crucial road projects throughout Union County. Adding to the insult, according to NCDOT, of the 100 worst roads in our entire region, nearly 50 of them are here in Union County!
If the county had known for years that water supply and cost issues were on the horizon, why didn’t these commissioners put their foot down long ago, do their part, communicate with these towns and help stop this high-density push that has destroyed western Union County? How about the mantra that current taxpayers must now pay this exorbitant new rate to accommodate for future residents? Why wasn’t the rate increase from the drought, in which residents are still paying, viewed as an ominous warning sign? Whatever the excuse or hypothesis, it’s too late now.
In November, Mr. Rushing led commissioners to approve one of the most controversial high-density projects ever to be built in western Union County, as commissioners voted to approve a massive 615 home high-density development within the Wesley Chapel area. Commissioner Helms voted no. These commissioners didn’t care about things like water supply, rate hikes, crumbling roads, intolerable traffic, safety and increased localized flooding when they happily voted to approve this monster project.
Residents are puzzled by Mr. Rushing’s outrage this month, championing the voices of worried residents regarding rate increases and infrastructure damage due to high-density development. But it was just last November that he enthusiastically led commissioners to bulldoze over these same concerned residents, silenced their voices, and allowed one of the largest high-density builders anywhere in the Southeast to add to our infrastructure misery. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways.
The commissioners and these town leaders knew infrastructure was failing in western Union County, knew that NCDOT was broke, knew critical road improvement projects had been canceled, knew of impending water supply issues and knew these types of high-density projects would lead to much bigger problems in the future.
Consequences be damned and here we are with a 33% rate increase.
Residents will not fall for local political blame-game tactics from anyone, any longer. All these politicians blame the state, NCDOT, the schools, each other, but never take personal responsibility for their part in this high-density mess.
Finally, the county and these towns won’t tell you this, but Union County Public Schools has repeatedly sent “high-density impact statements” to these representatives, warning that student capacity numbers are becoming alarming again in western Union County. These warnings should mean that any county or municipal elected official who advocates for high-density development, either to offset this massive rate increase or as simple policy, must be called out publicly.
Incompetent growth equates to no growth, only incompetent growth is much more expensive to the taxpayers.
Wake up Union County residents, you are being played!