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Northampton hikes well permit fee

JACKSON – On Monday the Northampton County Commissioners approved to increase the fee of well permits to $110.

The commissioners’ decisions came after a second time of reviewing the issue and seeing other counties’ fees.

The increase was first introduced by Northampton County Heath Director Sue Gay at the last regular meeting held on March 19.

The increase is a part of a well rule grant, which is in conjunction with the state’s new Well Protection Law. The county could receive $40,000 if the grant is approved through DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources).

The well rule grant requires the county to adopt local well rules and increase well permit fees from $40 to $150.

Commissioner Chairwoman Virginia Spruill (D-2nd) voiced concern over the rise in the fees, stating the increase was “steep”.

At their March 19 meeting, the commissioners decided to table the decision on the increase until more research was do into what the surrounding counties charge for well permits.

At Monday’s meeting Gay provided the board with the fees from five different counties, showing Northampton with the smallest fees.

The different fees included:

Bertie County-$500

Hertford County-$400

Nash County-$125

Edgecombe County-$110

Halifax County-$150

“(Our fee is) probably the lowest in the area,” Gay said.

She said Halifax, Nash and Edgecombe have had local well rules established for “sometime”.

“I think it’s an incentive to push people onto the public system where the water is tested and treated,” said County Manager Wayne Jenkins about the prices.

“Most of our well water is not tested unless you smell something, which by that time might be too late,” said Gay.

Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) gave a motion to approve the increase, followed by Commissioner Robert Carter (D-4th).

In other business, the commissioners tabled a decision on the continuation of service by Johnny and Clonnie Reynolds on the Northampton County Joint Nursing Home and Adult Care committee.

Regional Ombudsman Armeta Colely informed the board about a possible conflict of interest regarding the committee members.

Coley said Clonnie Reynolds’ mother was admitted to a local nursing home for what was thought to be a short visit, which has turned into a longer stay.

The committee’s by-laws state that committee members are not allowed to serve if they have an immediate family member residing with in one of the facilities they visit.

The commissioners were apprehensive about making a decision as Coley was asking to go against the committee’s by-laws.

Commissioner Fannie Greene (D-5th) asked for Attorney Charles Vaughan’s legal point of view.

“I would not deviate from the by-laws, unless there was an amendment,” he said.

Coley said she would take the information back to the committee and bring more documentation with her at the next meeting.

The commissioners also approved the reappointment of Marshall Grant to the Roanoke-Chowan Regional Housing Authority Board.

The commissioners appointed Jack Saunders to the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council for a term of three years and appointed Commissioner Greene to severe as a second alternate to the council.

The Lake Gaston Weed Control Council consists of 15 members and three appointed representatives from each of the five counties surrounding the lake.