Sewer extension plans could be flushed

By Andy Winemiller - [email protected]

DOBSON — A proposed extension to the Interstates sewer system may be dead in the water.

At Monday evening’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, County Attorney Ed Woltz informed the board a proposed extension of the sewer line across I-77 to deliver sewer services to three customers may not come to fruition.

In early 2016 the board set clear criteria for extending the lines west of I-77 to hit the three customers.

“They pay half,” said board Chairman Buck Golding, referencing the three landowners.

One parcel is owned by BGSS Investments, LLC. The other two are owned by the life estate of Jean C. Wright. The property owners negotiated among themselves as to how much would be contributed by each to garner the $150,800 to move forward — half of the total cost of the proposed change-order.

However, Woltz explained one of three of the representatives for each property can’t come up with the $66,000 needed for his share. The other two have paid their portions and signed a cost-sharing agreement with the county. The matter is urgent, as contractor Smith-Rowe, LLC is about to wrap up work on the Interstates sewer project, which delivers sanitary sewer services along N.C. 89 to the I-77 and I-74.

“There may be only a week before the work on that contract is complete,” said Woltz in explaining the urgency of the situation. “If everything is not in place we won’t be able to do this as a change-order.”

It is likely the project could be completed at a lesser cost if done as a change-order, as opposed to a stand-alone contract.

Woltz had one possible solution. He suggested a possible avenue could be “collateralizing” the $66,000 through a deed of trust on the property. If the property owner had not contributed the $66,000 to the county within six months time, the county could foreclose on the property, which is valued at $166,500.

He also noted the property owners could “reshuffle” how they have divided the costs and the possibility of the owner garnering financing still exists.

The board shot down any thought of fronting the money for the property owner through the use of a deed of trust.

“I feel like they need to find the money,” said Commissioner Larry Johnson, who noted the property owners have much to gain in property value if the line is extended to their properties. “I can’t see us footing the bill.”

Johnson noted at best, the owner pays the $66,000 if the county were to go down the road of a deed of trust. At worst, it forecloses and is left to “fool with the property.”

“A deal is a deal, is a deal, is a deal,” said Commissioner Van Tucker. “We have to hold them accountable for the deal.”

County Manager Chris Knopf said he will consider the impact of shortening the line so as to deliver sewer services to only two of the three properties. However, it may be late in the ball game for such a change in plans.

The board set a deadline. Pending the results of Knopf’s studies, the third property owner has until Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. to come up with the funds. If not, any possibility of a change-order to the existing project which would bring services west of I-77 may die.

By Andy Winemiller

[email protected]

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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