Council to consider sewer request

Published 5:18 pm Saturday, January 11, 2014

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, will discuss authorizing the city manager to negotiate an amendment to the sewage-treatment-capacity agreement between the city and Town of Chocowinity.

Chocowinity pays the city for sewer capacity in the city’s wastewater removal system and to treat the town’s sewage at the city’s sewage-treatment plant.

Chocowinity wants to purchase an additional capacity if 8,450 gallons per day so it can better serve the rest area to be built along U.S. Highway 17 south of the town, according to a memorandum from Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, to the mayor and council. Under the current agreement between the city and town, the town pays $10 per gallon of capacity. The rest area will be in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction but not in the town limits.

Also, the council is scheduled to hear a presentation from N.C. Department of Transportation officials concerning the widening of a section of 15th Street.

The proposed project calls for a center turn lane to run from 400 feet west of Washington Street to about 400 feet east of Pierce Street. That area of 15th Street is near the former Kmart site. Traffic congestion in that area likely would worsen if a proposed residential development near that area is built, city officials said.

The proposed agreement calls for the city to pay for costs of relocating utilities that exceed $150,000 and be responsible for rights-of-way costs that exceed $135,000.

While city staff is optimistic the $150,000 would cover costs to relocate utilities to allow for the turn lane, staff is less confident about the cost to obtain rights of way not exceeding $135,000.

“While staff is fairly confident that the $150,000 for utility relocation costs should be sufficient, right of way (R/W) acquisition could be (a) different story,” reads a memorandum from Lewis to the mayor and council. “Staff has taken the area to be taken in R/W provided by NDCOT and used the current property tax value of the land only for each of the (affected) property owners to try to get an idea for how much the R/W acquisition may cost. As you can tell from the attached spreadsheet, this figure totals almost $105,000.”

Lewis wrote that NCDOT officials believe that estimate is “way low” in that it does not take into account the following:

• Damages to the residual property;

• Possible court verdicts if condemnation is required;

• Costs of appraisals;

• Title opinions;

• Overhead for negotiations.

DOT officials also note that while the current tax values are based on a recent revaluation, they may not reflect fair-market values. DOT officials estimate the right-of-way costs to the city could run from $150,000 to $170,000, the memo reads.

Late last year, councilmen Doug Mercer and Bobby Roberson asked for more information on the project, including a more-detailed cost estimate. They are balking at approving the agreement until the city has a more concrete cost estimate on obtaining rights of way.

“At least give me an idea about the kind of money we’re talking about,” Mercer said at a council meeting last year.

The council also wants to know if an offer by property owners (those who would be affected by building the turn lane) to provide rights of way at no cost to DOT or the city remains on the table. Mercer said it’s his understanding that at least some of those property owners had expressed a willingness to donate the property that DOT needs for rights of way.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at, click “Government” then “City Council” heading, then click “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right. Then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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