Water line decision passed to new board

Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2015

By Diana McFarland

News editor

A decision on the controversial water line to Gatling Pointe has been postponed until January.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Rex Alphin and outgoing Supervisors Buzz Bailey and Al Casteen voted to table the issue until a new board is sworn in in January.

Voting not to postpone the project Thursday were Windsor Supervisor Dee Dee Darden and Hardy District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In January, there will be three new members on the Board of Supervisors, although Jefferson asked if the county’s business should be postponed for that reason. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“We need to move now for the future, not four years down the line,” he said, referring to the time it would take to update the comprehensive plan, as well as the time to build the water line.

Darden, who is being replaced by Joel Acree in January, said, “sometimes we have to spend money to make money.”

Last month, the Planning Commission’s recommended denial of the project based upon the water line being outside the Newport Development Service District and therefore, is not in accord with the current comprehensive plan.

However, Jefferson said he spent two nights reading the comprehensive plan and didn’t see how running a water line outside the DSD was a violation.  

The 2008 Comprehensive Plan, which remains the county’s roadmap for zoning decisions, says the county should not extend public services and facilities into rural areas or locations outside the designated Development Service Districts in order to preserve the county’s rural character.

The proposed $3.7 million water line would run down Nike Park and Battery Park roads to serve 587 customers in Gatling Pointe and Battery Park, and who are now served via an agreement between the town of Smithfield and Isle of Wight County. Absent from the plans is a sewer line and water tower.

The water line was originally part of the ISLE 2040 expansion of the Newport DSD, which would have put it, and Gatling Pointe, within the DSD boundaries. ISLE 2040 was defeated last summer.

Prior to the decision, county engineer Don Jennings offered an array of reasons why the water line should be extended, including an argument that Isle of Wight is suffering financially from the Norfolk water deal, but the town of Smithfield’s system is healthy and could withstand the loss of customers from Gatling Pointe.

Smithfield Vice Mayor Andrew Gregory said the water line would negatively impact the town, and hence its residents.

Any notion that losing $250,000 a year in revenues would not harm the town is “grossly inaccurate,” Gregory said and mentioned Jennings’ presentation about Smithfield’s water system.

“After all of that, with a straight face, (county) staff continues to say they’re doing us a favor … with friends like that who needs enemies,” he said, refuting the county’s claim that the water line extension benefits both the town and county.

“This is not win win.”

Gregory asked for the “courtesy” of both entities sitting down and coming to an agreement rather than pitting the county against the town.

Board Chairman Rex Alphin asked about the location of a water tower which would be a part of the county expansion and whether the cost estimate included land acquisition.

Jennings said the tower could be put in many locations, and as for the cost of land acquisition, he initially said “yes,” that those costs being included, then said he didn’t think it would cost very much and finally, “I don’t have a straight answer.”

0 0 1 562 3205 The Smithfield Times 26 7 3760 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

As Jennings answered Alphin’s questions, he was joined by Rich Mathews, one of the consultants who prepared the preliminary engineering report. Mathews said there are about 30 properties involved and, so far, there’s no estimate on how much acquiring the property would cost. {/mprestriction}