Council OKs utilities deal with condo developer

Published 4:26 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007

By Staff
Hopes that Marick would scale back project evaporate
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council approved an agreement with the developer of a high-rise condominium project on the former Whichard’s Beach property that specifies what the developer must do to obtain water and wastewater-treatment services from the city.
The council, with a 4-0 vote, approved the agreement during its meeting Monday. Councilman Archie Jennings was on vacation and did not attend the meeting.
The developer, Marick Home Builders &Developers, is based in South Carolina. Its project on the Pamlico River is called The Rembrey. The water and wastewater-treatment services also will be provided to Beaufort Pointe, the single-family-dwellings component of the development proposed for the former Whichard’s Beach property. The Beaufort Pointe project calls for building 55 single-family residences adjacent to The Rembrey.
Although the condominium project is not within the city’s jurisdiction, city officials had hoped to persuade Marick to scale back the project, which calls for building two high-rise buildings — about 13 stories each — containing 300 residences. Some county residents oppose the project, saying the design is inappropriate for that site.
Because the project needs water and wastewater-treatment services, city officials had hoped the city’s capability to provide those services would give it some leverage in persuading Marick to modify the project. That tactic didn’t work.
According to a memorandum City Manager James C. Smith sent to the council and mayor late last year, “All expenses for engineering, construction, and inspection of the facilities and all of the expense to operate water and sewer facilities subject to a minimum cost of twice the fee for providing such service within the City will be born(e) by Marick Home Builders, LLC or the future condominium association or associations.”
The agreement requires Marick to design and install a gravity-flow sewer line from the condominium complex to a new pump station that will serve the development project. When the sewer line is built, it will be conveyed to the city, except for the segment of the line on the property where the condominium complex is located. Once the city owns its part of the line, it is responsible for maintaining it.
Marick also is required to pay all customary impact fees and connection fees on a per-unit basis related to the provision of sewer service by the city on a per-unit basis. Any condominium association formed by owners of the condominiums or other owners of the property will pay a “monthly sanitary sewer collection charge, which is equal to twice the then current rate charged to regular residential customers residing in the City’s limits,” reads the agreement.
Marick has encountered opposition to at least one of its other projects. A Marick high-rise condominium project in South Carolina continues to face challenges despite Marick and Oconee reaching an agreement that says Marick is vested in the project on Lake Keowee.
Marick contended a county ordinance did not apply to its project because the project had been approved by the county before the ordinance was enacted. The Monte Lago project calls for building 270 condominium units on an 18-acre property. The buildings housing the condominiums will be from seven to nine stories tall. Under the terms of the agreement, Marick will comply with the county’s new development regulations and will widen Luther Land Road to 22 feet.
Residents in the Beacon Shores, which is next to the Monte Lago project, have said Luther Land Road is too narrow to accommodate an increase in traffic and emergency vehicles. The new ordinance requires developers to improve roads so they will safely handle more traffic.
Oconee County Attorney Brad Norton, according to a report published in the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail newspaper on Tuesday, said Oconee County never regulated condominiums until the new ordinance was approved, which happened after Marick’s drawings for the project had been stamped.
A judge had scheduled a hearing for Jan. 23 to hear arguments that Marick is not vested in the project and the county is wrong in reaching its agreement with Marick.
In a related matter, a man and his wife, who said they placed $20,000 down on one-acre lot — with a price tag of $575,000 — that’s part of the Monte Lago project, have settled their case, the Independent-Mail also reported Tuesday.
In late 2006, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control rejected a permit application that would have allowed Marick to begin site preparations for the Monte Lago project, the newspaper reported. It was at least the third such Marick application rejected by the DEHC, according to the newspaper.
The applications have focused on sediment intrusion created by site preparations and controlling stormwater runoff.
Project opponents have expressed concern to environmental officials that the project would increase pollution in Lake Keowee and that a heating and air-conditioning system associated with the project could result in about 8.5 million gallons of water being taken from the lake each day. The project would include about a mile of the lake’s shoreline.