Surry supervisors take 1st step toward HRSD

Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2016

By Matt Leonard

Staff Writer

The Hampton Roads Sanitation District will petition the Surry County Circuit Court next month for approval to take over wastewater assets from the county.

The Surry County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution last week that grants HRSD the ability to do so. The resolution passed with a 3-1 voice vote with Board Member Judy Lyttle as the lone dissenter.

Prior to the vote, Surry County Attorney Bill Hefty told the board what it would be voting on.

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Hefty told the Board that the resolution was not agreeing to a binding contract with HRSD, but rather the first step toward a contract. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The vote last week simply allows HRSD to petition a judge in the Surry Circuit Court to approve Surry as part of their district. There will be a public hearing where interested parties can speak and the judge decides if HRSD’s district will be expanded to Surry.

Once and if a judge makes the decision, the Board of Supervisors would vote on whether to enter into a binding contract with HRSD.

Before the resolution was approved, Lyttle made a motion to table consideration until the April 7 Board meeting. She said there were some answers to questions “needed by people who are deeply impacted by the decision” and said more time would help.

Hefty said that after the judge decides on the circuit court level, the Board of Supervisors would be able to enter a contract whenever it wanted, whether it is next year or 10 years from now.

This decision comes after a few months of discussion at Board meetings that began when HRSD General Manager Ted Henifin spoke at the January Board of Supervisors meeting.

At another board meeting earlier this month, Lyttle had voiced concern with the project, saying she had not received enough information to feel confident moving forward with the plan. Henifin said there will not be a lot of information to provide until further in the process.

Surry County Administrator Tyrone Franklin said the county needs to expand its wastewater capacity if it wants to seriously consider economic development.

Franklin and others have said the current system is close to what it can accommodate and a business that uses a lot of water would likely not be able to come into the county due to the limitations.

Both Franklin and Henifin have said they hope to transfer wastewater assets from the county to HRSD by the beginning of the fiscal year — July 1. With last week’s vote it would still be possible to meet that date.

HRSD is also talking with the town of Surry about taking over its wastewater operations. Henifin said he understands the town council will be voting on a similar resolution at its April meeting.  {/mprestriction}