Request comes with twist

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 19, 2004

AHOSKIE – It was a request in which the Ahoskie Town Council has a past history of denying, but yet this particular appeal came with an interesting twist.

After excusing himself from voting on the measure here Tuesday, Ahoskie Town Councilman Larry Vann transformed into an advocate for his place of employment – Reynolds Funeral Home.

That long-standing Ahoskie business, currently located on North Maple Street, is currently in the final planning stages of constructing a new facility on NC 561, just on the western outskirts of town. The plans for the new building call for the business to be connected to the town’s water and sewer system.

Therein lies the dilemma – Ahoskie is currently operating its wastewater treatment plant under a Special Order of Consent from the State Division of Water Quality. The town, currently making plans to expand the treatment plant, now has a very limited amount of wastewater capacity it can add to the system. Ahoskie officials prefer to hold that limited amount for residential or small industrial/economic growth within the town limits.

If Reynolds Funeral Home desires to hook-up to the Ahoskie’s water and sewer system, it would have to be handled as an out-of-town request.

&uot;When we first began discussing this project, I told Mr. Vann about the sewer moratorium and that Council had not granted out-of-town requests since we were placed under the moratorium,&uot; said Town Manager Russell Overman.

The contractor hired by Reynolds explored the option of placing a septic tank system at the new location, but the Hertford County Health Department as well as state environmental and health officials expressed concerns due to the business using embalming liquids.

Now back at square one, the business had no other alternative but to approach the Town Council in hopes of gaining approval to its out-of-town water and sewer request.

&uot;When this Council decided a while back to establish certain criteria concerning out-of-town water and sewer requests, you did not say that these connections would not be made,&uot; noted Overman. &uot;But, to date, you have denied all requests of this nature.&uot;

However, there was an interesting twist to this request.

Since Reynolds Funeral Home is already an established business within the town limits, could the company simply transfer its public works services from its old location to the new one?

The answer was yes.

&uot;If you wish to grant Mr. Vann’s request, you could do so by not using any of the limited wastewater allocation we currently have, but instead you could decide to swap the (sewer) flows from one location to another,&uot; suggested Overman. &uot;The out-of-town requests you have denied in the past were ones that would have required us to add to our wastewater system. This request is different because we will not add, but rather transfer.&uot;

Following a brief discussion among Council members concerning Overman’s alternative, Councilman O.S. &uot;Buck&uot; Suiter Jr. inquired of what promise Reynolds would make in regards of not using sewer services at its old building upon making the move to its new location.

&uot;Once we move, we’ll have no use for sewer service at our current location,&uot; answered Vann. &uot;We will provide upkeep on our old building, but that’s it. When we move, everything goes with us.&uot;

Suiter asked Vann if Reynolds Funeral Home would state in writing of its intention not to use sewer services at the old building once the company makes its move. Vann said his company would agree to those terms.

The request to grant out-of-town water and sewer services to Reynolds Funeral Home at its new location was approved by a 4-0 vote.