LETTERS / Boone-Doggle: The Sun Does Not Shine Over Boone’s Town Hall

Published Monday, July 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Dear Editor,

Dubiously, the town of Boone claims ignorance of the law on one side and makes up laws that do not exist on the other.

Boone’s town manager whines the “Coopers had never made the town of Boone aware of their participation in the Farmland Preservation program and their right to a public hearing.”  While the town manager is new to our area, the town council members are very aware of the Watauga County Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance which has been in effect since October 2, 2000. We do not believe Boone is ignorant of the law. Boone had every intention of taking possession of the property and if caught afterwards, Boone would merely hold a hearing to correct a procedural error.

Now that the Coopers have notified the town of Boone of being part of both the Ashe and Watauga County Voluntary Farmland Preservation Programs, which require a public hearing under NCGS 106-740, why has Boone not made a request for a public hearing with the Ashe County Agricultural Advisory Board?

After the law suit was filed to prevent the town of Boone from taking possession before holding the public hearing, New River Advocates, Inc., a non-profit made presentations to expose the truth regarding the water to the Ashe and Watauga County Agricultural Advisory boards in anticipation of the public hearings.   Boone has scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. on July 14, 2015 in the large courtroom, on the 2nd floor of the Watauga County courthouse.   New River Advocates, Inc. has built a website and Facebook page to get the facts about the intake out (newriveradvocates.com).

The Watauga County Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance was adopted by the Watauga County Board of Commissioners on October 2, 2000 and is adopted pursuant to authority under NCGS 106-735 through NCGS 106-743: (link to ordinance below)

http://www.wataugacounty.org/main/App_Pages/Dept/SWCD/viewordinances.aspx?Title=Voluntary%20Farmland%20Preservation%20Program

Anyone performing title searches, as would the attorney who did the title search when Boone bought the 10 acres of the Bud Cooper Farm (adjacent to the Buck Cooper Farm being condemned) for the proposed water intake, would be aware of the farmland ordinance.   By law, a sign and list of all parcels on the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Programs are visibly displayed in the Register of Deeds Office, the Tax Office, the Soil & Water District Conservation Office, the USDA Office, and the Planning and Inspections Office.   The mapping program also has a special overlay identifying property in the program. And, in Ashe County references to parcels on the program are clearly made to those performing title searches. There is no excuse for not knowing that the Buck Cooper Farm was part of the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program then or now. Equally, there is no excuse for the town of Boone’s right-of-way consultants or attorney to have not made this discovery in their title search for recent condemnation of the Buck Cooper Farm.

Section 3.5 of the Environmental Assessment performed by W.K. Dickson, engineers for the proposed water intake for the town of Boone shows they were aware of the National Historical Registry. And, Section 4.1.8 of the assessment shows they were aware of the Watauga Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program.

“4.1.8. Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance

In an effort to preserve and protect agricultural and rural lands within the Watauga County, this ordinance was adopted to establish a voluntary preservation program. The program establishes a mechanism for the voluntary creation of agricultural districts. The districts will appoint advisory boards and work with the County to control and protect land uses within the district.

Again, there is no excuse for ignorance of the law! May Boone officials be reminded of the quote: “Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

The town of Boone claims ignorance of the law and makes up laws as they see fit to justify a project that cannot stand on its own merit.   From the beginning the town of Boone set out to demonstrate a dire need for water based on a law that did not exist:

“When a water system reaches 80 percent of capacity, the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources recommends a plan for expansion. When the system reaches 90 percent capacity, N.C. recommends the expansion be under construction. If not underway, the state could impose a moratorium on new water hookups. Boone surpassed the 80 percent mark in 2006 and is projected to hit the 90 percent mark in 2009.” (Town of Boone – New River Project)

This statement is in stark contrast to the actual law, found at N.C. General Statute §143-355(l) and the average daily demand figures submitted by the town of Boone to the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources.

“A unit of local government or large community water system shall submit a revised plan that specifies how the water system intends to address foreseeable future water needs when eighty percent (80%) of the water system’s available water supply based on calendar year average daily demand has been allocated to current or prospective water users or the seasonal demand exceeds ninety percent (90%).

The town of Boone is not at 80% much less 90% capacity.   Boone was required to submit water reports to NCDENR every five years beginning in 1997 and annually after 2007. A water use report was not submitted for 2006. However, Boone’s engineers made a huge mathematical error in the formula used to derive the 2006 figures, an error that we are sure no one expected would be discovered.   In the 2007 and 2008 water use reports, Boone recorded average daily water losses of 708,000 and 664,000 gallons respectively. Use of the 2007 data for future projections in the 2010 environmental assessment demonstrates that Boone set out to deceive.

Boone’s manager claims Boone is more transparent now. We do not believe they know what transparent means. If Boone were transparent, the talks that N.C. Senator Dan Soucek claims are being held would be open.   Senator Soucek says the town council, county commissioners and he are in talks where House Bill 875 is a bargaining chip for water for highway 421 development, E TJ law suit talks and possible regional water authority.   Let the sun shine over Boone’s town hall!

Deborah Greene

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