By Jesse Wood
On Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 4 p.m., the Boone Town Council will meet in closed session to discuss potential implications from the latest developments in the Asheville water lawsuit on the Town of Boone’s water intake system that has been planned for nearly 10 years and was soon set for construction.
Also, the Boone Town Council will also speak with the town attorney regarding the lawsuit between the Town of Boone and the Cooper Family, which owns land that has been condemned by the town for the intake project.
Last week, the N.C. Court of Appeals dealt a blow to the City of Asheville. The appeals ruling “reversed trial court Judge Howard Manning’s 2014 decision that blocked creation of a regional authority to run a combined water and sewer system. [Manning] held that the N.C. General Assembly overstepped its constitutional authority when it attempted to put control of the city’s water system under a different state-created entity,” according to the Carolina Public Press.
Ever since the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill to takeover Asheville’s water supply, the town’s Water Use Committee has discussed the potential for the same to happen to the Town of Boone’s planned water intake system for which the town has a $20.5 million USDA loan to construct and for which it has already spent more than $2 million on planning.
During the Sept. 24 Water Use Committee meeting, Town Manager John Ward said that the town was in the final stages of the construction review process and that he hoped this project would go to bid before winter, according to meeting minutes.
Following Ward’s project update at the meeting, committee member Pam Williamson, who more than two years ago voted in the minority in a committee straw poll to stop funding the intake project for fear the state would take it over, again voiced concerns.
“During this discussion, Mrs. Williamson asked that it be noted for the record that Council Member Quint David and Mayor Pro Tem Rennie Brantz do not believe that the NC General Assembly will pass a bill stripping the Town of its regulating authority into the County jurisdiction,” according to meeting minutes.
David responded with a statement of his own that is attached entirely as well.
“At the end of the day I have a terrible feeling that we are having to make a decision that will get the town sued the least, rather than at all,” a portion of David’s statement reads. “All evidence seems to point in one direction for me, and unfortunately the legal precedence for condemnation, although none are excited about it, exists in far more clear terms than the legal precedence for depriving yourself of water for the purpose of controlling development. The latter is a path I cannot support, mostly due to my belief in public infrastructure rather than private, which interestingly enough I believe is still allowed to condemn property without the county permission by NCGS § 40A-3. Secondly due to I believe it being the least expensive legally, and most beneficial economically and environmentally.”
When the Court of Appeals ruling was handed down, High Country Press reached out to Ward for a statement from the town. Yesterday, Ward responded and said that the Boone Town Council may “choose to take a position” at its special called meeting on Tuesday or its regular scheduled meeting on Thursday.
To see Tuesday’s meeting notice, click here.
Councilman Quint David’s statement (click to enlarge):