Sep 272008

At a special meeting, Monday Sept. 22, Union County revealed a ‘draft’ of it’s upcoming water policy, titled “The Union County Policy for Allocating Water Treatment Capacity”. Stated in the second paragraph is the purpose of the policy which is “to document current water use by Union County water system customers and quantify the amount of capacity that is available for system expansion.”

No capacity so lets expand

Sounds like a line from a Monty Python movie. “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Complain about no water? Off with their heads!”

Landscape Irrigation

Too much irri'gatin going on...

So there you have it in black & white, the county cannot meet the existing customer demands for water, but our developer friendly commissioner majority wants new home construction to continue. Don’t forget, last year Commissioners Baucom, Mills and Pressley allocated the county’s remain sewer capacity. Those 13,000-18,000 homes will now have water permits codified in a promissory allocation ordinance. Union County’s special interest triumph again.

The Backwash

We currently have a finite amount of water coming from the Catawba River. Union County’s water processing plant, jointly owned with Lancaster County, has a capacity to pump 32,000,000 gallons of water per day. Since May of 2007, western Union County water consumption has exceeded our 18,000,000 gallons per day portion on number of occasions. (See graph below). In June of 2007 the county instituted water restrictions to curb customer use and lessen the strain on the county’s inadequate infrastructure for delivering water. The sad case is that even if we had more water, we don’t have the pipes, water towers and infrastructure to pump it to the consumers faucets.

Daily Water Demand (click to enlarge)

Daily Water Demand (click to enlarge)

The drought has nothing to do with the inability of Union County Public Works to meet demand.

The question of lawns versus jobs has been used to bolster the argument of the development industry to continue to build with no concern for the consequences. Union County’s water system currently has a customer base of 37,000, who are not getting the level of service that they were promised. Like wealth redistribution on the federal and state level, our liberal Commissioners are taking water away from you and giving it to builders who will make a profit off your sacrifice. This is fundamentally wrong on every level.

Over the last 10 years ((During the years of 2004-2006 the Board majority of Commissioners Sexton, Stone and Lane, removed builder bonus densities (Smart Growth) and enacted the APFO to begin to manage growth, but too much was already in the pipeline.)) , Union County’s commissioners have been manipulated by the developer community to subsidizing growth with tax dollars. The fact that Union County has the highest per capita debt of any county in North Carolina substantiates this claim. The new school system capital investment plan (CIP) just approved will mean another 7¢ on our tax bills.

So your taxes continue to rise, your property values fall as does your quality of life. Just how much do we have to sacrifice to the altar of special interests?

Numbed by Numbers

Union County Water Policy: {Click to view – right click to save} Note: file size 16MB

Make no mistake, the county consultant (HDR Engineering Inc.) was directed to produce a water allocation plan to match the rigged (( In September of 2007, the Union County Commissioners approved a sewer allocation policy that was only discussed in closed session, was not presented for a public hearing and was added as a last minute item on the Board agenda.)) sewer allocation policy approved last year. Without water, the sewer allocation is useless.

During his powerpoint presentation to the commissioners, he displayed a word-chart that indicated 1.9 million gallons per day of “surplus” capacity would be available for home construction, if Union County customers are only allowed irrigate one time a week. Can you believe it, he actually used the word “Surplus”.

The other chart stated that 4.8 million gallons per day surplus water ‘would’ be available if the county completely disallows all irrigation, in the Catawba basin. (See Graph)

I recommend the you review the Water Policy and please pay special attention to who gets water under the four ‘Priority Water Allocation’ plans. The consultant, hired and paid by the Commissioner majority, recommends the ‘A and B’ plans to be implemented. Imagine that.

Please note the time of year this policy change is being presented. Coincidence? Start writing those letters folks.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the county taxpayers and water customers were a priority for a change!

Mark your calendar and plan to trek down to Monroe. On October 6th, the Board of County Commissioners will hold a ‘Public Hearing’ on the new Water Policy. (Union County Government Center, Monroe, NC at 7:00PM October 6, 2008)


Sunday’s Charlotte Observer: Outdoor watering facing severe limits

From the story:

But the draft policy states that the demand created by projects – about 3.4 million gallons per day – would exceed the added capacity, even with residents under once-a-week water restrictions. So “mandatory water-use restrictions that permit no outdoor irrigation may need to be imposed to allow for this continued development,” the policy states.

 Posted by at 6:16 pm
Aug 012008

s November approaches and Commissioner Kevin Pressley’s term in office winds down, it’s tempting to write a review of his notable achievements as County Commissioner, a short list to be sure, but with four months still remaining, it’s too early to close the book.

Mr. Pressley continues to be the champion for the home-building industry in Union County, not even former Commissioner John Feezor (1998-2002), who was an executive of John Wieland Homes, did more to aid his fellow homebuilders.

Conflict of Interest

Government tainted by conflict of interest runs rampant though the Union County Commissioners, Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and the suspended Public Works Advisory Board. Mr. Pressley’s own decisions that pander to developer interests is bad enough, but his ‘developer friendly’ appointments to the advisory boards insure that corruption finds a way to every decision effecting the county.

Recently, Mr. Pressley hit another low point when he nominated for reappointment a planning board member whose lack of ethics became apparent county-wide when it was revealed, that he was member of the board of directors of Union County 2020, a political hit squad, purposely designed to skate by normal campaign finance laws, to promote their candidate and attack the opposition.

Mr. Pressley’s record to date, provides reoccurring instances of votes, motions and comments all in support of developer and builders interests. Whether to gut the APFO or conveniently allocate remaining sewer capacity to his friends, who some how find themselves in first place, regardless of the line. Last Monday’s (July 21, 2008) motion by Mr. Pressley and 3-2 vote to extend the sewer permit deadline beyond the county staff recommendation is a case in point.

What’s a little allocation among friends

Last fall, after a series of closed door meetings, the ‘Developer Majority’ of Baucom, Mills and Pressley voted to allocate county sewer resources without so much as a public hearing or review. They codified into policy, county assets to developers who supposedly had ‘promise to serve’ letters with no independent verification as their letter date or whether their projects would be permitted. Most had not been plated or approved by the county or municipal planning boards.

With the allocation policy enacted, developers ‘entitled’ to available sewer capacity must file a ‘Flow Application’ to begin the process and identify the specific amount of capacity they need. As an example, a project called Secrest Farms has been ‘in the works’ since at least 2004, initially designed to take advantage of now defunct ‘Smart Growth’ bonus density ordinance that gave developers up-to 25% more density in return for amenities like trees in the front yard. Currently the county’s sewer allocation has this project listed for 900 lots, a number that is not supported by current zoning and more than 100 lots in excess of what the developer can actually get, but the county has never the less reserved sewer capacity for 900 homes.

Per the County Allocation policy, developers were given a deadline of September 17, 2008 to file. When the appeals process took longer than expected, the County pushed by the deadline to January 30, 2009.

Ignoring the County Manager

“Let’s pay a professional $150,000 per year so we can ignore his advice”

The county staff recommended to the board that the deadline be extended to April 30, 2009 to accommodate those developers whose projects are taking longer due to a more exacting municipal zoning policies. Commissioner Pressley felt that just wasn’t long enough, because other complications like water availbility was still unresolved, so it may take longer for these ‘hard’ pressed developers to meet the deadline.

Pressley’s motion and resulting 3-2 vote to extend the deadline all the way until July 2009. Sixty-nine permits remain unprocessed, twenty-nine of the developers have not even contacted Public Works, until then 3 million gallons per of sewer capacity remains underutilized.

Put another way, to aid Mr. Pressley’s friends, Union County goes another year without drawing any revenue from this available capacity, another year of holding up new commercial projects like Mineral Springs downtown center and others waiting on the county sewer availability.

Oh, by the way, don’t buy Parker Mills’ yarn about no sewer availability until the diversion line from 12 mile Creek to 6 mile Creek is complete.

 Posted by at 5:23 pm
Jul 192008
Session ends, Commissioner Board expansion thwarted

ixty days after Union County’s Rep Pyror Gibson trio of venal commissioners voted to expand the board to nine members, a vote that was just intended to give Anson/Union Representative Pryor Gibson license to force voter districts on Union County, the session ended with the ‘bill‘ locked in committee. Reminiscent of the aborted attempt in 2007, where a bill crafted by Mr. Gibson and Allan Baucom, gave the commissioner majority the authority to extend their terms, there can be little doubt that keeping their majority intact in the aftermath of May’s election was all that mattered. Fortunately, the voters of Union County rallied and made their voices heard in Raleigh, much to the chagrin of Mr. Gibson, who lashed out at western Union citizens with a diatribe rarely heard from a state level elected official.

Said Rep. Pryor Gibson:
“I am convinced, now more than ever, that eastern Union County desperately needs somebody to look after their interests,”

He blasted voters and leaders in many of those municipalities Thursday, calling them ‘nuts’ and “goofballs” who couldn’t care less about anything other than their cul de sac.”

“It’s clear to me that people who have been the noisiest about this cared nothing about local government,” he said. “They only cared about their own interests.”

Enquirer Journal: Districts dead for this year

Goofballs & Nuts

I suggest there are two ways you can take Mr. Gibson’s comments about western towns and voters; with anger and righteous indignation or with humor.

It is easy to be disgusted with Mr. Gibson, his incredible arrogance, thinking that western county voters would allow him and his cronies to steal our voting rights, over turn an election and allow Allan Baucom, Parker Mills and Kevin (the undeposed lame duck) Pressley to set the future of Union County, without so much as a peep. A future that benefits a few high rollers, developers and land speculators, subsidized by taxpayers, just like the last 8 years. Western Union County is not on the plantation anymore.

I prefer to view Mr. Gibson’s tantrum as a sign of frustration and annoyance at having his plans derailed. A Snidely Whiplash moment if you will, reading between the lines, you can almost hear the refrain, ‘Curses foiled again’.

The voters of Union County have prevailed now and will in November.

If your feeling a little ‘nutty’ or goofballish and you’d like to send a message to ol’e Pryor Gibson that will make a dent, do so by giving his House District 69 opponent a campaign contribution (John L. Barker).

 Posted by at 4:44 pm
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