Sep 212007

Water Tower Regardless of the issue, it seems that Union County’s ‘Developer-Friendly’ Commissioners find a way of placing needs of a fellow developer or club member ahead of taxpayers. The placement of the new water tower in Weddington is just another case in point.

Those of us with dead or dying lawns, shrubs and trees know first hand how the lack of water supply and infrastructure has adversely effected our homes. The current water restrictions is the result 20 million gallons a day (MGD) demand and a 18 MGD supply contract and a plumbing system that is barely adequate.

The envelope please!

This past Monday night, Union County Commissioners selected a site for the new Weddington water tower. The site they choose was not the consultant engineers first choice, nor was it their second choice.

It was obvious to those in the audience last Monday night, that Commissioner Mills favored the Reaview school site and later the Cox Road school site, which might be acceptable except those options come at millions more in cost to the taxpayers.

So in the end, the Board voted 3-2 for Site 1A, as recommended by the new Public Works Advisory Committee, when they reviewed the site choices earlier this summer.

Consultants Engineers: Site recommendations

Senator Pittenger need not worry

It was painfully apparent, that Commissioners Baucom, Mills and Pressley were dead set against entertaining the consultant engineers first choice for the tower. You would have thought it was radioactive. Chairman Pressley was quick to stifle the discussion as Mr. Openshaw revealed that the best site, was owned by a group led by Mecklenburg State Senator Robert Pittenger.

The good senator has been a very active land speculator in western Union County. One of the most lucrative was the satellite annexation into Waxhaw arranged by NC Legislature, so Senator Pittenger’s property would enjoy much higher home density than county zoning. That resulting ‘school busting’ development is known as Lawson. There are others.

Mr. Openshaw suggested that since the Senator has been so successful in Union County, perhaps his sense of civic responsibility would give him pause and he’d consider selling less than 3 acres of his 81 acre track to Citizens of Union County who so desperately need water.

The Senator, represented by his son, answered Mr. Openshaw’s interrogatory, stating that ALL the property was available for $300,000 per acre.

The reader should know that going rate for all the residentially zoned land for that area of western county is appoximately $100,000 per acre. Land specifically for commercial use goes for $300,000 an acre, so one could draw the conclusion that there is more to this story. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In the ‘Developers’ paradise of Union County, there always is.

Water Tower Sites

It’s always easy to bully the little guy and a church

We’re told the property owner of Water Tower Site 1A, is not a ‘willing’ seller, so a condemnation lawsuit will be required to wrest this property away, unless facing the legal might of Union County is more persuasive.

That same hammer is evidentially less persuasive when opposed by a bigger hammer in Raleigh.

Facebook Comments
 Posted by at 7:49 pm

  15 Responses to “Weddington Watertower: Anywhere but Sen. Pittenger’s property”

  1. According to Senator Pittenger, he is looking out for the best interests of Weddington. He stated the the “blight” of a water tower looming over the “gateway” to Weddington would be an eyesore for years to come.

    Did I miss the big “gateway” on Rea Road? I don’t recall being able to tell where, specifically, in Union County I am while driving in that area. Are we building a monument or something resembling some grand entrance that would be marred by such an unsightly tower?

    And how much difference is the eyesore going to make between Pittenger’s site and site no.1A? It’s across the street! Guess the view is better and worth more when it’s owned by Pittenger.

    As a side note…all those annexations and increased density, according to the Senator, were because “Waxhaw wanted to grow.” Forget the millions of dollars he made from those “irregular” deals. Apparently our Senator was just doing us a favor…

    Well…we’ve grown! So, now it’s time to pay the piper. Problem is…Pittenger isn’t willing to even negotiate on his land. This lends new meaning to “not in my backyard.” A Senator for N.C.’s future? Right…I’d like to see him put his money where his mouth is.

  2. His land just became worth a lot more now that sewer capacity has been doubled at twelve mile creek.. and everyone else’s land too, including mine.

  3. We will be waiting for those nice checks that you and Mr. Pittenger wil be sending to cover the cost of making your land more valuable. Let those pay who benefit, I say. That is what a free market is all about. Wait, wait, I am getting a message. Oh, that only applies to the less fortunate, Democrats, or whatever you call them. You know, the people who pay the bills so the connected can be Republicans in good standing.

  4. homeowners who are connected to the public sewer system pay monthly sewer bills. those bills cover the cost of their sewer service.

    why do you think they should have to pay the ENTIRE COST of any upgrades to the sewer system on the day they sign their contract to buy a home?

    did individual homeowners pay the full cost to run electricity to their homes back in the 30s and 40s, on their first bill? or did their monthly bills eventually pay for their service installation costs?

    the funny thing about people like you Aubrey, who want impact fees, is that you ALSO want to be able to throw that money into the general fund so you can use it for whatever purposes you want. every time the republicans have offered to accept impact fees if the money only goes into schools, the democrats balk because their lie is exposed.

  5. What a nice windfall to have your land double in value as Mr. Raines contends! And to have done nothing to deserve this except sit back and wait….oh and maybe some have contributed to the campaigns of certain commissioners. Unfortunately my land has not doubled in value due to additional sewer capacity. And contrary to what Mr. Raines said, not everyone’s land has doubled in value – the growth in value of my 1/3 of an acre may have been stunted due to the new supply of residential development that will almost certainly follow from the addtional sewer. Hmmmm. By the way Mr. Raines, the invitation to come over to our house still stands even though Mr. Rushing disinvited you, sweet fella that he is. Just give a call first.

  6. Most people who derive unearned income from the action of markets, political actions, or even their own simple good fortune have the grace to keep their mouths shut and go about their way. But, who would expect Mark Twain, er..Raines that is, to not stick in the little daggers into soft places that he perceives to exist? And where did you get that I wanted impact fees? You make up so much that you have to make up to cover your make ups. Please on your next trip to Disney World, stay out of the Small World boat ride. You have gotten the number down to one already. We certainly don’t want you going POOF! A laugh a day has to keep something bad away.

  7. Jeff,

    Excuse me but how exactly did you expect to make a “profit on your tiny 1/3 acre of land? I’m guessing developers arent exactly lined up around the block waiting to sign a contract to buy that postage-stamp sized lot, eh?

    And thank you for admitting that one of the reason you don’t want any more houses is because it increases supply and thus reduces the demand pressure for YOUR house. most non-landowners know and understand this, but they don’t have the guts to admit it in public.

    Landowners and postage-lot-sized-homeowners are never going to agree about development, EVER. it is in the interest of those homeowners to try and pass the most restrictive zoning possible and stop any additional home construction near them at all costs. luckily we have this thing called “property rights” that stops you cold in your tracks.

    BTW, How can Stony Rushing disinvite me from somebody ELSEรขโ‚ฌโ„ขS house?

  8. Mr. Raines: again you are divining something nobody said. I never said I didn’t want more houses. They will be built and they (the newcomers) will come. No problem. Sure, in the best of all worlds I would prefer things to stay exactly as they are, but that isn’t real. We knew before we moved in 9 years ago that houses would be everywhere. It’s the infrastructure that’s the problem – there is not enough of it, but we’re just rehashing the same ground.

    Mr. Rushing disinvited you to my house in one of his replies to this website. He said that if you do come over, however, you will have to kiss my ring. I don’t wear a ring, so I don’t know what he is talking about. I guess kissing rings, among other things, is something he is familiar with, just not in my case obviously.

  9. They better build more than a water tower to supply the needs of this county,
    y’all must be brain dead……………….

  10. Mr. Weglarz,
    You would be correct if the water towers were being built primarily as a water source. But as I understand it, they are not. The water towers are needed to improve the system’s water pressure, especially during peak useage times. That is the primary reason that we need the towers. As I understand it, the water towers are not intended as a significant water source. Most people forget during this drought, that our infrastructure is just as stressed as is our lack of water. Both are in dire straights.

  11. With Pittenger’s recent announcement of his run for Lieutenant Governor, it’s time to resurrect this topic.

    Of course, the water tower matter is minor compared to Pittenger’s sleazy-to-the-max deal that got his spec land on Cuthberston Road annexed into Waxhaw in 2003, increasing its value by millions while costing Union County taxpayers millions in school construction (not to mention loss of water and sewer capacity, environmental degradation, and life-threatening traffic congestion). His abuse of power demonstrated by his engineering of – and even voting for – the bill that allowed this, accompanied by fellow senator (our senator) Fern Shubert’s enthusiastic support for this fiasco, raised political corruption to new heights.

    Of course, the “yellow dog” republicans (or whatever color their dog is ๐Ÿ™„ ) will enthusiastically support this, one of the most corrupt people ever to serve in the NC Senate, because he’s “not a Democrat”. These are the same people who rant and rave about how long the Democrats covered up for corrupt members of their party such as Jim Black, while turning a blind eye on the sleaziest members of their own party.

    It’s always amusing to remind people that Pittenger guaranteed passage of his self-serving Waxhaw bill through the house by sneaking it on to an already-passed Jim Black bill. Huh. Isn’t that the same thing that Democratic Rep. Pryor Gibson supposedly did with his District Representation bill? Yeah, but it’s OK when a Republican does it, right? ๐Ÿ˜ก Especially… ๐Ÿ˜• …must…keep…coffee….from…shooting…outta…my…nose…JIM BLACK????? Hahahahahahahahaha…the Republicans’ favorite punching bag? Well, birds of a feather, as they say…

    Sometimes – a lot of times these days, in fact – my own party embarasses me more than the “other” party.

    Maybe NC Republicans will finally see Pittenger for what he is: a major bag of hot air surrounding a solid core of greed and self-serving sleaze. That hot air, bagpipe-like, frequently feeds the noise machine with buzzwords like “Christian”, “conservative businessman”, “illegal immigration”, and “cut taxes”.

    Maybe before Pittenger talks about cutting taxes, he can look at the tax increases he’s engineered in Union County, from the millions of dollars in public costs resulting from his Waxhaw annexation bill to the $1.3 million dollar public cost of his water tower position.

  12. that Pittenger guaranteed passage of his self-serving Waxhaw bill through the house by sneaking it on to an already-passed Jim Black bill.

    Are you saying that this was added to the bill after the final vote? If so, how do you know this, and how is that possible?

    I agree he should have abstained from this vote to at least try to keep a minimal appearance of being ethical. I just want to be clear on the details.

    Also, were there any benefits to the people of Weddington from this annexation? Any other purposes served? โ“ โ“ โ“

  13. Joe, a great resource (in case you haven’t visited it) is the NC General Assembly’s website: It’s a bit tricky to search for old bills unless you have a good idea what you’re looking for, but the site is a valuable research tool as one gets used to its quirks.

    Anyway, Pittenger’s pet bill, his personal multi-million-dollar moneymaking machine, was House Bill 705 from the 2003 session:

    A brief recap of the calendar is:

    3/26/03 Bill was introduced by Jim Black, legislatively annexing some remaining parcels into the Town of Matthews
    5/22/03 Bill received favorable report by house finance committee
    5/28/03 Bill passed house; there was still no mention of Pittenger’s Get Rich Quicker scheme
    5/29/03 PASSED house bill went to senate finance committee; I don’t know if Pittenger sat on that committe during that session, but he is listed as a member of the senate finance committee now: Standing_77
    6/18/03 Senate finance committee amends passed house bill, adds language ANNEXING PITTENGER’S PROPERTY INTO WAXHAW, reports favorable…Surprise, Surprise!
    6/24/03 Senate votes to pass H705 with the Pittenger annexation added…vote was 47-1 followed by 49-1 with Pittenger voting “AYE” both times on the bill that would net him millions of dollars; only “NAY” vote was by Sen. Katie Dorsett (D-Guilford)…man, we need more senators like her and fewer like Pittenger and Shubert ๐Ÿ™„
    6/26/03 Re-voted in house on concurrence after senate passage; 3 “NAY” votes including Rep. Pryor Gibson (D-Anson,Union)

    So, there it is.

    Are my fellow republicans sure we want somebody like Pittenger in the Lieutenant Governor’s office? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ It’s been bad enough with him in the senate. ๐Ÿ˜ก

    And no, I don’t see any benefits to the people of Weddington…or to Waxhaw either. The benefits of quadruple zoning density went to developer Steve Pace, a Pittenger crony, who owned about 1/3 of the land, and to Pittenger himself, who was in the process of selling more of the land to Pace.

    The personal profits that resulted from this bill are being subsidized by Union County taxpayers in the form of depleted sewer capacity, increased school construction needs, increased public safety needs, and decreased quality of life. Taxpayers statewide will be paying for the additional teachers required by the new schools, and for the additional roads necessitated by all the development (if and when they ever get built ๐Ÿ™„ ).

  14. Thanks. I actually frequent NCGA site, especially when they’re in session, but as you indicated, unless you know what to zero in on it would be hard to find this.

    Was Pittenger’s and Pace’s properties the only area annexxed, was the much more that conveniently included their properties?

  15. Oh, no, Joe, this was just for Pittenger’s property (the part he still owned and the part he had already sold to Pace).

    If you read the text of H705, it was simply “sneaked in” anonomously as a long, boring metes and bounds description of the property such as you would see on a deed. Nothing in the bill language ever identified Pittenger as the owner of the land…do you think that was by accident? ๐Ÿ™„

    Of course, when the guilty parties were confronted, everybody’s stories kept changing. From a Charlotte Observer article dated 6/26/03:

    Sen. Robert Pittenger, R-Mecklenburg, was among the first to approach fellow lawmakers about crafting a bill to help the developer. Current law doesn’t allow Waxhaw to annex the land.

    Town officials would normally be the ones to request such legislation. Although they support the annexation, they said they didn’t know the bill existed.

    “We had nothing to do with this legislation,” Waxhaw Town Administrator Mike Simpson said. “We were absolutely floored by it.”

    The developer bought the land last year from a company run by Pittenger, and has bought land from his company over the past seven or eight years. Pittenger received campaign contributions from Pace and his business partner, Ken Dowd, shortly after completing the land sale last August.

    Pittenger, who was first elected to the Senate in November, acknowledges his business ties to Pace but said he wouldn’t personally profit from the legislation and that he’s just trying to make good policy.

    “Just because you know somebody, are you supposed to take a pass if it’s good public policy?” Pittenger said. “Do I only help people I don’t know?”

    Pittenger initially said Republican Sens. Fern Shubert of Union County and Fletcher Hartsell of Cabarrus County led the effort and that he had “no involvement in the process…”

    …There’s debate over who in the legislature initiated efforts on the Waxhaw annexation. Hartsell said Pittenger asked for his help and that Hartsell then suggested tacking the provision on to a Matthews annexation bill. Pittenger said he couldn’t remember whether he or Shubert asked Hartsell for help, but that Pace/Dowd was lobbying several lawmakers. Pittenger, who spent $638,000 on his campaign last year, received $3,500 in contributions from Pace, Dowd and Dowd’s wife…

    Yeah…first he “initially” had nothing to do with it…then Waxhaw officials knew nothing about it…then it turns out that Pittenger was “among the first to approach fellow lawmakers”. Then, finally, the old standby: Pittenger “couldn’t remember” whose idea it was. Kind of makes you get a real warm, fuzzy feeling about Pittenger’s integrity, doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜•

    Oh, and about “completing the land sale” to Pace prior to the legislation: The Union Observer and I had done some additional deed research and the actual, honest-to-God deeds in the Register of Deeds office proved beyong a doubt that Pittenger, indeed, still owned most of the land when his bill was signed into law. Pace had taken options on part of the property, but Pittenger’s company absolutely, positively, still owned it.

    When confronted by an Observer reporter about this apparent discrepancy, Pittenger backpedaled and spun…

    Also, Becker notes, Pittenger still owns some land in the area. But the senator said that’s just a technicality and that Pace/Dowd has a contract that says it controls the land. The remaining land hasn’t been formally sold yet, Pittenger said, because his company didn’t want to report profits from the sale of additional land last year…

    Ummmm, that’s a new one…”formally sold”…is that as opposed, say, to “informally sold? :mrgreen: What in the world does that mean?

    Last time I studied land law, the recorded deed is the official record of who owns a piece of property, whether or not it has or hasn’t been “formally sold”. Puh-lease… ๐Ÿ™„ oh, yeah…the “technicality” was just for “tax purposes”. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Finally, and the Observer article even got into this: Pittenger had tried the same trick a couple of years earlier, when he wasn’t in the senate. He’d obviously been trying to accomplish this mega-profit-making scam for years, but when the ol’ fox Pittenger wasn’t right in the henhouse guarding the chickens himself, he couldn’t get it done.

    Becker and others also point out that Pittenger previously tried to have that land annexed into Waxhaw through legislation. Former Rep. Max Melton, D-Union, said he introduced a bill in 1999 at the request of Waxhaw and Pittenger, who owned the land then. He said Hartsell was serving as Pittenger’s lawyer when dealing with the land.

    Melton said he introduced the bill because both the town and Pittenger wanted it. He said he pulled the bill, however, once he found out the land bordered Wesley Chapel.

    Max Melton listened to his constituents, something Fern Shubert failed to do four years later. ๐Ÿ˜ก

    The article closes with this which, in hindsight, is priceless!

    Even before Wednesday’s vote, Democratic Speaker Jim Black, who hails from Matthews, expected the House to agree with the proposal, since annexations are common and rarely scrutinized by lawmakers.

    “I doubt if people will be asking questions about that,” Black said.

    Nope. No questions, Jim. It was awfully nice of you to work so generously with those pesky Republicans, wasn’t it? I mean, with all those nasty things they were saying about you, it was so unusual for one of them to ask you afor a favor, right? No way Honest Senator Pittenger would have wanted to be associated with one of YOUR bills. :mrgreen:

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