Cable TV operator vows to finish building his dream

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, March 15, 2007

By Staff
Council amends ordinance to grant second extension
BELHAVEN — A majority of the Town Council approved amending a franchise ordinance to give Sunburn Communications another year to finish construction of its cable plant.
The town, with a population of about 2,000, has franchise agreements with two different cable companies. Belhaven Cable TV, currently in operation, and Sunburn, which has been building its operation over the past few years, will be competing for the same market once the new company is up and running. Growing Sunburn from the ground up has led to some rancor from the incumbent cable operators because of the size of the market. But according to the local owner and operator who has been fighting to keep the project alive, that’s not going to stop Sunburn’s fruition.
In a brief telephone interview Wednesday, Singleton said he wouldn’t give a timeline for construction completion.
Singleton said the company is “doing fine” and has “no restraints.”
The extension, granted by the council during its meeting Monday, is the second extension provided by the council to allow Sunburn to complete its construction project.
The original franchise ordinance, approved Feb. 7, 2005, gave the company a one-year deadline. The deadline was self-imposed by Sunburn.
The council approved the first request for a one-year extension in March 2006.
To amend the franchise agreement, the council had to approve the change in two readings.
The second reading for the second request was conducted Monday.
Councilman Steve Carawan repeated the summons he issued last month, asking for a Sunburn representative to come forward. Again, no one answered his call.
Carawan was the only dissenting vote on the contract extension.
Following the vote, Councilwoman Cynthia Heath clarified that the request being approved was to extend the deadline for one year.
Carawan said approving the request would be granting a third year to complete the project, which was originally scheduled for completion in one year.
At the time of the original franchise agreement, Sunburn intended to attach cable to utility poles in some areas of Belhaven. Instead, the company changed direction and decided to install its cable underground.
In a Feb. 6, 2007, letter to the council, Singleton said the reason for the second request was because of “wet weather and some personal health problems.”
The letter goes on to state that extreme caution had to be used in installing cable underground “to prevent any interruption or cut of public utilities due to the absence of maps, which locate such utilities.”
The procedure is time-consuming, Singleton wrote. In his letter, he estimated that underground cable installation was approximately 79 percent complete.