Council Members Don’t Side With Loretta Clawson on Halting Water Intake Project

Published Friday, October 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm

By Jesse Wood

On Thursday, Boone Town Council Member Loretta Clawson once again voiced her opposition to continue with the Town of Boone’s water intake project along the South Fork of the New River.

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Clawson

During discussion about two resolutions pertaining to the Town of Boone’s water intake project along the South Fork of the New River, Clawson – like she did a couple days earlier at special meeting – suggested postponing any further activity with the project, which will soon go to bid.

Clawson cited the recent N.C. Court of Appeals ruling overturning a prior judge’s opinion that stated it was unconstitutional for the N.C. General Assembly to transfer Asheville’s water supply to a regional authority.

(This is something that has been a topic of concern for the Water Use Committee since the summer of 2013 – that and the topic of growth and water going into unregulated areas in the county, which Clawson also mentioned again.)

With the fear of the same thing happening to the Town of Boone’s 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 consulting, engineering and planning fees in the past several years, Clawson said the Town of Boone should hold off on moving forward and spending more money on the project.

“I think there are serious questions that need to be answered before we move forward,” Clawson said.

The Boone Town Council ended up approving the two resolutions, which can be viewed here, 3-1, with Clawson providing the lone dissent.

In 2010, 75 percent of town voters approved a $25-million bond referendum for a new intake system. Following the referendum the Boone Town Council accepted the USDA loan to finance the project.

During the Sept. 24 Water Use Committee meeting, 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.

During that meeting when concerns of continuing with the project were brought up and featured an unsuccessful vote to halt the project, Councilman Quint David provided a statement for the record on why he was in favor of continuing with the project.

Below is part of his statement, which can be viewed entirely here:

“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. 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.”

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