Sanitary District to purchase N’hampton land

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 10, 2004

JACKSON – In a Monday meeting of the Northampton County Commissioners, Dan Brown, CEO of the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District, in Northampton County advised the board of the district’s intention to purchase property near the Virginia line.

The aforementioned property would be used by the district for land application purposes and offer area farmers an opportunity to use the treated water from the facility as fertilizer for their crops.

&uot;We are providing this service free to farmers,&uot; said Brown, &uot;which helps to lower their production costs for their product.&uot;

In other parts of the county, individual farmers are already working in conjunction with the Sanitary District to take advantage of the nutrients and moisture from the processed water at the waste treatment facility.

&uot;Everything is closely reviewed by the state to maintain healthy environmental protection standards,&uot; explained Brown. &uot;We can’t over apply.&uot;

In order to keep the land viable, land application would be limited only to a certain percentage of the property even though the district may obtain a permit for an entire farm.

Brown added that without employing the process of land application, counties and municipalities would either have to burn their waste or transport it to a landfill, neither of which would be environmentally prudent.

Although the specific location of the land had not been disclosed, the property being considered by the district would offer close to 100 usable acres for land application purposes, which according to Brown would put them near their projected goal.

&uot;We are hoping to make this site a model for others that might be interested in participating in the program,&uot; he said, &uot;and by owning the land, we would have maximum freedom to comfortably go and show the facility.&uot;

In response to the question of whether the county envisioned having its own wastewater treatment facility in the future, raised by Commissioner James Boone, Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins stated that indeed it did, but that it would likely be some time before it would be possible.

Jenkins explained that the county had already submitted a request for the state to issue a pre-approval for speculative discharge of the treated water into the Roanoke River, but was flatly denied on the basis that existing wastewater treatment facilities were not operating at full capacity.

He added that if the county were to have its own facility in the future, it would probably be in the eastern part of the county as opposed to the western part since the state encouraging regionalization. The project would also require a sizable investment on behalf of the county.

According to Brown, farmers participating in the project would lease the land from the district and maintain it for possible land application use in the event of an emergency.

&uot;We would only come out to the land for repairs and maintenance issues,&uot; he said, &uot;but the land would have to be ready for us to use, we couldn’t apply to an area that hasn’t been maintained.&uot;

During the course of the meeting, commissioners voiced concerns about protecting the county from outside entities purchasing real estate within the boundaries of Northampton.

&uot;According to Article 2 of GS 153A-15, the sanitary district is not currently required to disclose their intentions regarding land purchase to the county,&uot; stated Jenkins, acknowledging Brown’s voluntary intention to advise the board of the district’s preparation to purchase property in Northampton.

Commissioners heeded the suggestion of Chairwoman Virginia Spruill to petition representatives to add Northampton to the list of 77 counties already requiring other units of local government from outside the county to obtain permission from the board of commissioners before condemning or acquiring land in their county.

Being added to the list will help protect the county from other districts who want to own property for the purpose of landfills or other similar projects as well as utility service areas and would give the county the authority to make the final decision on whether or not to allow it.

Northampton County Public Works Director Andy Crew commented that Brown had &uot;gone into much detail&uot; with him regarding the project and stated that he had even visited the site.

&uot;The families in the area support the project and have been working with Brown for many years to get something started,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t see any negative consequences for the county.&uot;

Jenkins commented that he appreciated the partnership that had developed between the county and the sanitary district over the years and appeared pleased when Brown responded with willingness to compensate the county.

&uot;We would be more than willing,&uot; Brown responded suggesting that perhaps the district could help with the county’s efforts in economic development.

&uot;We realize the value of the service sanitary district offers to the county, &uot; said Crew. &uot;We have a tremendous relationship with them and we will do everything we can to preserve that.&uot;

Details regarding the purchase of the land has not yet been disclosed, however the sanitary district is working closely with the county to update them of its progress and intentions.