City hook-up policy needs to be enforced uniformly

By John Peters

April 30, 2014

Several weeks ago we criticized the Surry County Board of Commissioners — actually several times — for its seemingly single-minded obsession with getting the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners to take over the money-losing water and sewer lines in Bannertown and Flat Rock.

Part of that criticism dealt with the fact that the county had shrunk from its duty of enforcing mandatory hook-ups for both systems, ensuring those lines would run at a deficit. Since then, in an attempt to get the city to take over the systems, the county has agreed to enforce mandatory hook-ups on residents along the lines.

Now we learn the city has likewise failed to enforce required hook-ups on households in the Hollyview Forest and Sandy Level subdivisions annexed by the city in 2007 and Cross Creek and Laurel Cove subdivisions annexed a year later.

Those residents had a deadline of Dec. 31, 2012 to hook up to city water and sewer lines, and while a number did, there are apparently hundreds of homes which did not hook up to one, or both, services by the deadline and remain disconnected from the city system.

The truth is these folks didn’t ask to be taken into the city and it seems unfair to require them to hook on to these systems if they have perfectly good wells and septic tanks. However, the city code requires this, and to enforce it in some areas and not in others is truly unfair, and leaves the city open for potential litigation.

If Mount Airy officials really wanted to be fair, they would unannex those neighborhoods and the water and sewer question would go away. But, we all know that’s not going to happen.

So, it would seem when the board considers these homes that are in violation of the city code, the commissioners should do so with the intent of enforcing the mandatory hook-up policy. And while we hope the board will be mindful that some could be enduring financial hardships which could make the hook-up difficult, it’s also been six and seven years — ample time for folks to set aside a tiny bit of money to help pay for the hook-up.