Outer Banks Sentinel May. 10, 2007

Wastewater project remains stalled

BY VICTORIA BRAGUNIER | SENTINEL STAFF

The Dare County Board of Commissioners, at its meeting on May 7, received an update on the Stumpy Point Wastewater Treatment Facility after recessing in their function as the commission and reconvening as the Stumpy Point Water and Sewer Authority.

Gary Hartog, the engineer consultant from Wooten Company, the engineering firm that developed the plans for the facility updated the authority.

"Where we stand currently in the permitting stage is that of the eleven permits that are required, we have secured five of the necessary permits," said Hartog.

The permits obtained thus far are the NC Division of Water Quality (NCDWQ) National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit, NCDWQ stormwater permit, two NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) encroachment agreements, and the NC Division of Land Resources (NCDLR) sediment and erosion control permit.

"Six more permits are in the reviewing stage; most of them are in the final stages," said Hartog.

Among the major permits still needed are an encroachment agreement with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, NCDWQ Section 401 water quality certification, NC Division of Coastal Management (CAMA) permit and the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) Section 404 permit.

"NCDWQ is not accepting the current plan that has been submitted regarding wetland preservation, and that has been one of the things that has held up this project," said Hartog.

He said that NCDWQ is requiring one of three choices to be followed: A wildlife restoration project, a creation of wetland preservation project or payment to the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program. Of the three options, Hartog recommended that the authority pay into the Ecosystem Enhancement Program.

"Payment into the Ecosystem Enhancement Program is the least expensive and least time-consuming of the three options," said Hartog.

Ray Sturza, county planning director, told the authority that it had the authorization to spend $24,367.00 in order to pay into the enhancement program.

Hartog then told the authority that if they approved the payment today, the environmental enhancement program will consider the application next Monday and that the application could be approved in approximately two weeks.

Hartog also explained that another area of contention had to do with the Army Corp of Engineers section 404 permit.

"The Corps has requested further information on secondary and cumulative impacts of sewer service to Stumpy Point. They are particularly worried about the development of currently undeveloped lots and the impact on wildlife," said Hartog.

Hartog explained that the Corps is holding onto the 404 permit until further analysis of the undeveloped lots has been submitted. Wooten has been asked to prepare a proposal on the matter and Hartog stated it will take 30 days for that proposal to be developed. Once the proposal is submitted to the Corps, it may take another 30 days for their approval.

The Authority approved measures to pay the $24,367 into the ecosystem enhancement program and to enter into an easement with one of the Stumpy Point property owners.

In other board of commissioners business, the board voted to approve a resolution to the North Carolina General Assembly in opposition to Senate Bill 831.

The bill, sponsored by Senator David Hoyle, cites its purpose of streamlining local government regulation of wireless facilities and wireless support structures. The board's resolution states the areas of concern regarding the bill have to do with fees and new location for cell towers, as well as the power of local governments to decide where cell towers will be located.

The motion was unanimously approved.

The board also listened to a presentation by Charter Communications. James Ray, the North Carolina and Virginia government relations manager for Charter Communications provided an update to and answered questions from the board about local cable services.

There were numerous questions from commissioners regarding quality of services offered and prices. The answers given by the Charter representative were that the company was given the best customer service and cable quality available and that pricing for the services reflected the technical updates that Charter had put in place.

victoria@obsentinel.com | 480-2234