Citizens address concerns

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 6, 2006

WINTON – Paved roads and fires hydrants, or rather the lack thereof, was the hot topic at the Hertford County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday.

Several citizens addressed the board on Monday to express their frustration over the fact that Jim Hardy Road, in the Menola community, has remained partially paved for several years now despite numerous requests by residents in the area to finish paving the thoroughfare.

The residents perceived lack of an adequate number of fire hydrants in the area was also a concern brought to the attention of the board.

County attorney Chuck Revelle explained that the decision to continue paving the road was an issue which the county has no control over.

&uot;The part of that thoroughfare that has not been paved is owned by a private citizen,&uot; Revelle stated. &uot;Unless that individual agrees to sell the county that tract of land, our hands are pretty much tied.&uot;

In a twist of public sentiment, residents actually called on the board to implement &uot;Eminent Domain&uot; policy to secure the piece of land that has held up the paving.

Eminent Domain is the policy of a governing body to convert privately owned land to public land, subject to reasonable compensation.

Revelle explained that the state of North Carolina has suspended its policy of using &uot;Eminent Domain&uot; to secure land when the road in question is a secondary road.

It is rare to find an instance where private citizens call on the government to utilize the controversial policy.

Revelle went on to explain, &uot;That parcel of land has been on our priority list to be paved for some time now, but we cannot force the owner to sell.&uot;

Another issue raised by the citizens of the same area was the apparent scarcity of fire hydrants.

Many residents in the rural areas of the county might feel more secure with the presence of a fire hydrant in close proximity to their neighborhoods.

Revelle explained that the mere presence of a hydrant does not indicate that the hydrant has the capacity to be used in a fire-fighting situation.

&uot;Our water system was implemented over 15 years ago,&uot; Revelle explained.

&uot;In order to be able to service the entire county with water pressure capable of allowing a fire truck to pump water from a hydrant would’ve increased the cost of implementation significantly.&uot;

Most fire departments in the region use a &uot;drop tank&uot; system to fight fires in rural areas. Fire engines use tankers to transport water from a hydrant to the hazard area, and then drop the water into a huge portable reservoir, or &uot;tank&uot; to allow fire fighters to put out a blaze.

The infrastructure of the county is such that in less populated areas, the amount of water pressure is not as robust as it would be in the more populated areas of the county.

It is possible that the web of tentacles that is the water and sewage system sometimes allows for residents who may live close to a bordering county could possibly benefit from that county’s system if the water lines either intercept or overlap.

&uot;One of the concerns that we have for our citizens in the rural parts of the county concerning water availability is their inability to be offered particular insurance policies,&uot; Revelle said. &uot;In that regard we’d like to see our infrastructure upgraded. The challenge is figuring out a way to pay for it.&uot;