Mar 222011
 

Public Comments concerning the Rea Road “Extension” which would connect a road between Rea Road and NC 84 (Weddington Road), coming out at near the Twelve Mile Road intersection.

Present at the MUMPO meeting were Weddington’s Mayor Nancy Anderson, Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry and Councilman Werner Thomisser.

Part -1

Part -2

Part -3

Part -4

Sep 242008
 

The New Plan for the Woods

p
ublished in the Enquirer Journal today was a story quoting IB Development partner Philipp Walton as saying that he wants to “move some dirt in the coming months, starting some roads for the Woods, and then perhaps prepping homes with a form of septic tanks.”

Prior to requesting a pump station from Union County or the recent conditional use permit for a sewer plant from Weddington, IB Development had received a preliminary plat for septic use from the town.

During the conditional use hearing, representatives from IB Development testified that a septic tank option was not feasible, if there investment goals were to be met. Meaning that density is more profitable, as would be the difference between 204 lots on a sewer solution versus 126 lots or less on septic.

Many observers noted during the conditional use permit public hearing testimony of one IB Development contracted engineers, who stated that the town of Weddington knew full well, that when the developer asked for septic in their first sub-division application, they had no intention of actually doing septic. This visibly raised the ire of at least one council member and may have changed his vote.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the developer will move toward a gravity sewer solution advocated by the Weddington Council and surrounding neighbors.

Sep 022008
 

By Kent Hayes

H
ere are some additional facts about the private sewer plant planned for one subdivision of 200 homes in Weddington. In the public hearing the developer for the subdivision has explained the planned private sewer plant can not provide enough irrigation water for the development. The rest of the irrigation water has to come from a potable water natural resource, wells drilled on site. In this area, wells are drilled in rock strata, not actually a collection pool of water or aquifer. The water withdrawn will effect the area’s stored water table, not the wet season runoff in Mundy’s Creek basin.
greensewer.jpg
Another use of potable well water is required when you calculate the millions of gallons of potable well water required to keep the eight acres of overflow ponds filled. The developer has promised the eight acre ponds will be filled and be a cosmetic enhancement to the subdivision. It has also been disclosed the raw sewage inflow pump station may be deep into the fresh water table and the sewer plant site will likely need to be dewatered (lower the water table).

Before making this critical decision, the Weddington town council needs to understand with some degree of certainty these basic issues. How much well water will be needed to irrigate the entire gated subdivision, run the entire private sewer system and keep filled the eight acres of sewer effluent holding ponds? How much well water will be destroyed by dewatering and lowering the water table to accommodate the sewer plant and pump station? And, what are the short and long term environmental effects of this development plan to the surrounding area’s potable well water?

The overall point is, annually, there will be millions of gallons of potable well water ruined for one development’s cosmetic landscaping, private sewer plant operations, sewer effluent treated water holding ponds and private sewer plant site dewatering.

The discussion of well water use by the developer has been selective and exclusive. But we do know the state’s sewer permit application allows fresh water to be used to operate the private sewer plant and maintain the eight acres of treated water holding ponds. The state allows dewatering. There is no source available for such tremendous amounts of water other than the natural resource, potable well water.
There is one positive aspect this plan offers in regard to not having to use well water. The eight acres of overflow ponds are by state permit, allowed to be completely empty or dry. While leaving dry, eight acres of unfenced, treated water residue, muck, mud, trash and dead fish may be a stinking eyesore, the practice, would prevent millions of gallons of good well water from being destroyed by being mixed with sewer effluent just to be evaporated.

The subdivision will be supplied their potable residential use and drinking water from Union County, a municipal source. If this conditional use permit is approved, there are no restrictions and no monitoring of the town’s potable well water supply. Many of us living in Weddington depend on our wells.

Protecting our wells

No one developer should be allowed to abuse the town’s potable well water for their own profit. This private sewer plant, treated water holding ponds, irrigation and dewatering plans are doomed to be an environmental disaster when compared to the certain abuse of the natural resource, potable well water. Other than some non drinkable irrigation water, a sewer system byproduct, there is nothing “green” about this pump and haul sewer plan.

The town council can not make an informed decision about this conditional use permit without an extensive, independent study of this development’s impact on our common natural resource, potable well water. While North Carolina and Union County can not and will not protect our potable well water, the town council can. The Town of Weddington Land Use Plan mandates the protection of our natural resource, well water.

The Weddington Town Council is the last group of elected officials, our neighbors, who have the responsibility and opportunity to protect the health, welfare and property values of the community. All of us here in Weddington, especially those of us depending on well water, are expecting these elected leaders to keep our potable well water supply safe and available.

How can the Town Council of Weddington issue a conditional use permit that does not specifically define, nor has extensively studied, potable well water usage which directly relates to our health, our safety and our property values?

If you are concerned about how your well water will be affected join us at www.friendsofweddington.org and also contact the Town Council of Weddington, your Legislators and the Union County Commissioners.

Aug 102008
 

The Woods Question

The Woods Permit Hearings Begin

Last night, the Town of Weddington began the Conditional Use Permit hearing to allow the installation of a private sewer plant in the Woods subdivision.

Most of the initial testimony concerned elements of the waste water treatment, it’s design and placement. IB Development partner Philip Walton testified that excess sewer capacity will be available and for sale to adjoining ‘yet to be developed subdivisions’. Considering that sewer county availability is years away, if permitted, the Woods excess capacity will likely be snapped up by adjoining parcels. An external ‘Pump Station’ in the design may serve to facilitate that option.

The hearing was continued to August 18th.

Photographs from Mondays Public Hearing at Weddington High School.

Aug 012008
 

by Melissa Emerine

We moved to Weddington exactly one year ago. We moved here for a bigger lot, rural charm and Weddington’s small town feel. After months of renovations on our house, we moved in and learned that The Wood subdivision going in next door to our neighborhood put in a request to Union County for a pump station. We learned that Weddington had approved them for septic and that Union County had a policy against pump stations. We asked ourselves why the bait and switch?

Ultimately after a lot of scandal, rumors of bribery, back room good old boy deals, and rumors of an FBI investigation, Union County Commissioners rejected The Woods request for a pump station. Our family breathed a huge sigh of relief and we were happy that we had made a good choice in moving to Weddington.

We live in a very wooded neighborhood, where we can walk outside and the air smells sweet like the mountains. Walking through our neighborhood you can see deer, turtles, squirrels, geese, heron and a multitude of other wildlife. Our neighborhood has many lakes, where residents fish daily, canoe, and parents supervise kids jumping off inflatable trampolines into the lake. There is a beauty and quality of life here that is priceless.

Could we soon be wasting away in Weddington? The Woods proposes to build a private wastewater treatment plant that will be located in the middle of their luxury community of homes ranging from 1.2 to 3 million dollars. Gray water (water from showers, sinks, laundry) and black water (sewage from their toilets) will be treated through their plant. They will irrigate their common areas and private lawns with the treated wastewater.

We have learned that residents will not be able to walk out into their yards during irrigation. They will have to take a reclaimed water safety course before they can close on their home. If residents come in contact with reclaimed water they are asked to wash off the effected areas. Residents living in this zero maintenance community will have no control over their yards. They will not be permitted to mow, weed, or plant bushes, trees, flowers or any in ground vegetable or fruit plant. The homeowners association will maintain their yard.

IB Development LLC says that their system is safe, yet this system will not filter out all pathogens, viruses, bacteria or drug residues flushed down the toilet. If approved this would be the first private residential wastewater treatment plant of its kind in North Carolina. Weddington, do we want to be guinea pigged with this technology? Our soils are very different from California, Florida and Arizona where these types of systems are used and municipally managed.

The Woods waste treatment plant will be privately managed. We are concerned about treatment plant failures and we have learned that a pump station is a part of this system and will be located at Mundy’s Run Creek that feeds into our neighborhood lakes and streams. Pump stations are also subject to failures and odor. We are concerned about groundwater contamination. The majority of our neighborhood is on wells. I met with IB Development in early June with a group of concerned citizens and they advised us that they could not 100% guarantee there would be no odor,
although they have changed their tune in the media and letters to the community.

Will nearby neighbors and Weddington have to pay the price should the plant fail or the homeowner’s costs become too high to manage the plant? Will the developers be able to sell this concept to potential buyers? With the glut of million dollar homes on the market who would want to buy in this neighborhood?

Weddington, let’s protect our health, environment and quality of life. Please attend the public hearing on Monday, August 11, 7:00 pm at the Weddington High School auditorium. Please voice your opposition to The Woods private waste treatment plant. If approved, this could set a precedent for the rest of the town to be built with wastewater treatment plants.

Please sign the online petition opposing this plant at FriendsofWeddington.org. Its not too late to join this group and help us challenge this issue at the public hearing. We need support!


Jun 242008
 

T
he Weddington Planning Board vote was 4-2, better than last time, but still no cigar as Infinity Partners (aka IB Development) continues to inch forward toward the finish-line.

In a three hour meeting, which began by moving to Weddington High School, just to seat the 130 plus people who had come to watch the proceedings and ended with a vote on the four ‘findings of fact’ followed with a negative recommendation to council.

The Woods’ presentation team spent much of the time outlining the changes made to the site plan, in response to objections raised from the previous Planning Board rejection. They moved the location of the plant and holding tanks to the center of the development, underneath the amenity center, created two wet-weather holding ponds instead of one and guaranteed the Planning Board member who pressed the issue, that ‘there will be no odors emanating from the plant’.

The parade of professionals included engineers from McKim & Creed, a former NC Department of Water Quality (DWQ) official, a lawyer (of course), a landscape engineer, land appraiser and Philip Walton, IB Development’s point-man. All were well prepared with one exception; but everyone knows property appraisal isn’t an exact science – just look at your county reval.

I found the former DWQ official’s comments remarkable as he related that DWQ would be the agency responsible for oversight of the ‘Utility System Operator’ hired by IB Development to perpetually manage the The Woods Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWW.TP).

You’ll pardon me if I am not overwhelmed with confidence, as it is this same DWQ whose oversight of Union County’s Twelve Mile Waste Water Plant over the years, have resulted in hundreds of thousands in fines for improper discharge, but still the plant operated, expanded and now is running a maximum capacity. I am sure the downstream residents of WWW.TP are much more concerned than I am — they should be.

Neighboring and downstream homeowners have a number of concerns and a ‘surprised’ IB Development as gone to great length and expense to answer and quash. After all, should the WWW.TP fail to gain approval, then either a gravity-feed sewer to Twelve-Mile plant through Aero Plantation will have to be built or the developer have to revert to his original Weddington plat authorization of 204 homes that only 100 or so can actually be built for septic use.

Technology advances

What was plain from the presentation was an inherent belief that water reclamation technology is viable and ready for wider use. Indeed, who can argue that reclaimed water can serve many of the irrigation needs around the county. The ‘Purple’ pipe solution is an issue that County Commissioner Lanny Openshaw has spearheaded as a means to reduce outflow from the Twelve Mile Plant and provide a water source to area golf courses and the common areas for large sub-divisions.

Using ‘reclaimed water’ for The Woods’ home irrigation is cause for much of the concern, as is runoff into streams, ground water contamination and the anticipated by many, ‘eventual’ accident.

Also of interest, is the capacity of the WWW.TP, which according to the engineers is capable of processing 100,000 gallons per day, or 480 gallons per day per household at build-out. IB’s Phillip Walton testified that Union County Public Works had allocated 39,000 gallons of flow per day, had the subdivision been allowed to connect to county utilities. If DPW number is accurate, it leaves 60% of the WWW.TP under-utilized. What to do with the excess capacity? Sell it, of course. I suppose eventually we may have a Town of Weddington Public Works Department.

And what of Union County Public Works?

As mismanaged and abused as DPW has been by current and past county commissioners, Union County residents have a very large investment in our water and waste water treatment plants. If do-it-yourself waste-water plants become commonplace, it will undercut the county’s system and increase the costs to a static customer base – defeating the purpose of an ‘Enterprise’ model the county adopted 20 years ago.

The ‘Misinformation’ misinformation

One of the most ironic elements of the ‘Woods’ development process has been the exclamations and complaints that ‘opposition’ homeowners and residents are ‘misinformed or persuaded by misinformation’. Almost everyone with a stake in the Woods being approved has made this claim, from Mayor Anderson to Infinity Partner’s chief Ashley Campbell.

Why is that? Why are people misinformed? Could it be that the Town of Weddington made little or no special effort to inform the public as to the nature of sewer plant plans before-hand. Or could it be that Weddington callously permitted a subdivision for septic, that NEVER had any intention of actually going that route? At what point between asking Weddington for 204 lots with septic and Mr. Walton announcing to the public that only 100 lots could actually be developed with septic, did Weddington drop the ball. The final responsibility for permitting a subdivision is the Town Council.

Tell me, would the Woods have been given a preliminary plat if the Planning Board knew about the sewer plant up front? It would have changed the whole character of the process. Had Weddington’s Town Council and Planning Board known up front of about the ‘Sewer Plant’ plans, then the Woods’ preliminary plat would have be contingent in receiving a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the Woods Waste Water Treatment Plant as well. But now, plated with a fictitious septic plan, the CUP it’s just a matter of time and pressure. This was, in my opinion an unadulterated deception.

In fact, if you consider the letter from the county informing Infinity Partners that Union County Commissioners would have to approve a pump station connection (which they declined), it would give the appearance that Infinity Partner’s whole strategy has been based a series of fall back plans. The long protracted process with the county followed by a very quick ‘new’ plan for sewer package plant.

But, lets get back to the ‘Misinformation’ claims. What an outrageous charge and totally false. The pattern of misinformation has nothing to do with the plant characteristics, but all to do with keeping the public in the dark prior to the first Weddington Planning Board meeting. Very few people knew about the sewer plant or DWQ permit to build it. Tipped off neighbors had to go Mooresville to get copies of the ‘plant’ design and ask the Town for a CUP application. Furthermore, I’ve been told that adjoining neighbors did not receive letters of notification either.

Oh what a wicked webs we weave…

On May 14th, five days before the Weddington Planning Board met for the first time to consider the CUP, I emailed Infinity Partner’s public relations representative and asked for information about the proposal.

On May 15th, this was the answer I received:

Infinity Partners is currently exploring available wastewater treatment options. Because no single treatment option is yet established as a fact, we believe it would be inappropriate to comment on what is purely speculative at present time. As soon as facts do become available, we will be happy to provide you with that information and answer any questions you may have.

Misinformation?? Four days before they are presenting to the Planning Board they are claiming ‘No single treatment option is yet established as a fact’.

Why the deception?

Perhaps Infinity Partners thought they could fly under the radar. Many residents now believe that at least two members of Weddington’s Council has more than a passing interest in seeing the plant permitted.

The ‘misinformation’ Infinity Partners complains about refers to public concerns over the characteristics of the sewer plant as it relates to heath, safety, odor and environmental issues. Making a 180 degree change in direction after the Weddington Planning Board turned down the first plan unanimously, Infinity has become a plethora of information, sending out 20,000 mailers to local residents and setting up a website designed to answer questions, dispel any fears and remove objections to the technology.

To Be or Not

The question remains. Is it in the best interest of Weddington, the other 13 municipalities and Union County to allow a self-contained sewer solution? Shouldn’t the expensive lessons learned through past experience of Union County package plants be applied? Let’s have a dialog before jumping in with both feet.

I do have another concern, I haven’t heard address hereto-now. How much will homeowners have to pay for this sewer/irrigation service so thoughtfully provided with a new home in the Woods?

I know from attending Commissioner Meetings, that Union County residents, whose sewer service is provided by Heeter Utility, come before the commissioners from time to time to plead for the County to take over Heeter because of the ‘exorbitant’ cost ($60 a month) for sewer service.

Finally, are the citizens of Weddington going to liable for the permitting of this plant, if years from now, lawsuits pile up for one reason or another. You may recall, that just across the border, Charlotte paid out in excess of $12 million dollars to homeowners whose homes where built in a flood plain. The permitting agency bares responsibility, which by extension means taxpayers.