Creedmoor pushes water and sewer boundaries in negotiations

sbarr@newsobserver.comMarch 17, 2014 

— Top city officials continue to push a controversial plan that would expand their water and sewer jurisdiction as part of a larger discussion about the city’s water services.

The plan, which would create what Creedmoor officials have dubbed a “utility service area,” would bring Granville County land outside the city limits into Creedmoor’s control when it comes to water and sewer.

City officials will present the plan to the county’s Board of Commissioners Monday night, but no vote is scheduled for that time.

Several county commissioners already have expressed skepticism about the plan, and their questions should give an indication of whether they’ll support it later on.

If they vote against the plan, it could affect broader negotiations between Creedmoor and the South Granville Water & Sewer Authority as the two groups try to reach a deal that would make the city a full member of the authority.

Mayor Darryl Moss said last week that without the service area, he doesn’t think the SGWASA negotiations can succeed.

“Without a service area, it’s a no-go,” he said.

Moss said that would put other water options, such as the building of a city wastewater treatment plant or a bid to join with Oxford for water service back on the table.

The city’s wastewater treatment plant proposal has been the source of fierce criticism. The surrounding municipalities, environmental groups and residents all have been vocal critics of the idea. The city of Raleigh is among those opposed to the plant, in part because it would divert water from Falls Lake, the primary source of drinking water for the city.

If the SGWASA negotiations fall through, it also means Creedmoor residents likely won’t see relief anytime soon from high water bills.

Creedmoor currently is considered an outside customer of the authority, meaning residents pay more for their water than residents of other municipalities that are part of the authority. Estimates of how much each household would save if the deal goes through range as high as several hundred dollars each year.

The water issue was a prominent one in the fall’s elections when two political newcomers unseated long-time incumbents. New commissioners Del Mims and Tom Jackson both had been critical of the city’s failure to resolve questions about the city’s water rates.

Moss and City Manager Tom Mercer have said in presentations to SGWASA that the utility service area would help bring what they see as inevitable development into the southern part of the county in an orderly way that brings tax revenue to both the city and county. The county would retain its planning and zoning authority, while the city would have water and sewer allocation authority.

However, SGWASA has said it doesn’t have jurisdiction to create such an area, leaving the decision up to the county.

Granville commissioner Ed Mims also has his doubts about the utility service area. He called earlier versions of the plan an effort by Creedmoor to “gobble up” residents, and he doesn’t think residents who would be most affected by the plan have had enough opportunity to weigh in on it.

“I have no clue how [Creedmoor officials] might have derived it,” he said.

Butner Mayor Tom Lane, who also chairs the SGWASA board, said he’s not necessarily opposed to the idea of service areas but still has questions about how exactly Creedmoor’s proposal would work.

He said he wants to see the SGWASA negotiations come to a successful end.

“We are so close to getting it done,” he said.

Barr: 919-836-4952

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