Council mulling sewer request

Published 6:51 pm Thursday, January 16, 2014

Before it acts on a request by the Town of Chocowinity to buy more sewer capacity in the City of Washington’s wastewater-treatment system, the Washington City Council wants more information.

To that end, the council, during its meeting Monday, instructed City Manager Brian Alligood and city staff to work with Chocowinity officials to determine the town’s future sewer needs inside the town limits and outside those limits.

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.

Councilman Doug Mercer said the city must be sure it has adequate capacity to meet its current and future wastewater-treatment needs and have a better understanding of Chocowinity’s sewer needs in the coming years. The city needs that information before committing to provide the town the extra capacity it wants to meet growth demands inside the town limits and areas outside the town limits it wants to serve with sewer, such as the rest area, Mercer said.

In other business, the council voted 5-0 to annex 6.95 acres next to the Washington Montessori Public Charter School, which is located off Old Bath Highway and U.S. Highway 264.

Although city officials see no benefit in annexing the property, the council went along with the voluntary annexation request because the city previously annexed land where the existing school is located. The newly annexed land would be used for future growth of the school.

Several years ago, Mercer expressed concern over annexing large facilities such as schools because it may cost more to provide city services to them than the tax revenues they provide the city. Then, he questioned whether it’s feasible for the city to annex such properties.

Once an area is annexed, the city is responsible for providing services such as police and fire protection and enforcement of zoning laws. The annexed areas also produce tax revenues for the city, but not in this case because the school is a tax-exempt nonprofit entity.


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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