County to act on failing septic

By Andy Winemiller -

DOBSON — Surry County officials chose to take a headstrong stance on a resident’s septic system recently.

Correspondence from a resident on Toast Road in the Mount Airy area dating back to 2009 indicates there has been an issue at 158 Toast Road with a septic system.

In July Combs explained the property adjoining his land, owned by Cynthia Williams McMillian, has a septic system which is “straight-piped” into a drainage ditch. Raw sewage in the ditch runs through the property owned by Combs, and both Combs and his son, who has significant health problems, reside at the location.

Combs pushed the county to begin legal proceedings, and in 2012 McMillian was ordered by a court to fix the system.

Correspondence to and from environmental health department officials indicates McMillian was unable to tend to the issue.

In July the Surry County Board of Commissioners voted to take the lead in fixing the issue. The county would replace or fix the septic system, and a lien for the dollar amount needed for the project would be placed on the property. McMillian had agreed to the course of action.

On Monday, however, County Attorney Ed Woltz brought the matter before the county board again, noting when officials showed up at McMillian’s residence to begin the work, they were told to leave.

Woltz offered a solution to commissioners, and the board opted unanimously to move forward.

Woltz told the board the county may abate a public nuisance under the N.C. General Statutes. However, there are no procedural guidelines in the statute.

The legal definition of abatement is “the removal of a problem which is against public or private policy, or endangers others.”

“The statute allows the county to abate something that is dangerous or prejudicial to public health,” explained Woltz. “Somebody who is on dialysis lives there (on Combs’ property).”

Through abatement, the property owner would not be allowed to run off the workers there to correct the problem.

After gaining the consensus of the board, Woltz said he will have a letter personally served to McMillian. After that she may appeal to the board of commissioners. She also could appeal to the General Court of Justice.

The board recessed its meeting Monday evening, and will convene on Wednesday at 2 p.m. to take action. McMillian can plead her case at that time.

By Andy Winemiller

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

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