Commissioners fund nearly $17 mil sewer projects

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The New Hanover County Commissioners unanimously approved funding for Marquis Hills and Heritage Park sewer projects following a request from the board for staff to again present project options with updated data.

“What’s critical is that there’s a commitment to proceed,” county manager Chris Coudriet said, following a presentation during the Monday, May 6 regular meeting.

Chairman Woody White, who has been vocal about his opposition to spending such large sums of money for a small number of people, said he received persuasive calls for and against funding the projects.

“This does not solve the septic-to-sewer problem. We’re going to continue to have septic spills,” White said, noting the $77 million worth of capital sewer needs in other areas. “… I’ll confess this is hard money to spend.”

The 20-year North Carolina State Revolving Funds loan, totaling an estimated $16.7 million, will be paid back with an interest rate of 2 percent. The Marquis Hills project, including 697 land parcels, will total about $10.9 million, and the Heritage Park project will total about $5.5 million.

“As I said a couple of months ago, it’s past time to get this done,” vice chairwoman Beth Dawson said.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield Jr., who was also in favor of the projects all along, said government’s role is to provide services for the community at large.

With interest included, the projects could cost the county an estimated $19.3 million, not including property owner responsibility of an estimated $5,000 per parcel in Marquis Hills and $11,000 in Heritage Park for sewer and plumbing costs.

Frank Styers, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority engineering director, said project consultants have been selected, but they were waiting on the board’s approval to advance with the projects.

Citizens in the areas who do not have failing septic have options for up to two three-year deferrals. 

The CFPUA board approved to use $4.2 million from its capital improvements plan for the Marquis Hills and Heritage Park projects during the May 8 board meeting. The funds include a $2,500 per parcel contribution, $1.3 million in engineering costs and $500,000 for Heritage Park water hookups.

Construction starts are planned for spring 2014 with estimated completion dates of spring 2016 for Heritage Park and winter 2016 for Marquis Hills.

Four citizens spoke during the public comment period to end the meeting in opposition of Titan America, commemorating five years of a fight against the Carolinas Cement Company.


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