Council hears ‘water’ plea

Published 9:06 am Thursday, July 15, 2010

AHOSKIE – A passionate plea for help appeared to fall on friendly ears here Tuesday.

Although the Ahoskie Town Council took no action, they did seem to agree that at least one future water customer of the town was not at fault over the fact that pending water service to her home will be billed at a double rate.

Tammy Piland addressed the council during the public input portion of their regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting. Choking back the tears, Piland pleaded with council not to charge her and her husband double water rates due to the fact that they live outside the town limits.

The Pilands live on Holloman Lane off NC 561 East. They are one of eight former customers of the Hertford County Rural Water District who were part of a sale of water lines/service by the county to Ahoskie in the town’s newly annexed areas.

However, as Piland pointed out, her property was not among those annexed by the town, but because the water line from which they currently receive service was part of the county’s sale, she had no other option to receive water other than from Ahoskie.

According to town policy, residences located outside the town limits are billed at double the monthly rate for water and/or sewer service.

“It’s not my fault that my property was not among those that was annexed,” Piland told the council members. “There are three other properties on my same road that this affects as well. I beg you to consider all of us when the town begins to run their water down our road. Please consider billing us at the in-town rate.”

Piland said the town’s annexation stopped one property from her home.

“Only one acre separates us from being in town,” she said. “It’s not our fault (that the line stopped there). It hurts me to think that we’re getting the raw end of this deal.”

Ahoskie town officials commented on Piland’s situation.

“She is correct, they are caught in a dilemma,” Town Manager Tony Hammond said. “It’s not their fault they were not annexed into the town. Why her property was not picked-up, I don’t know.”

“They didn’t ask for this,” Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn noted, referencing the sale of the county’s water line to the town.

“This is a special exception,” Councilwoman Elaine Myers stated.

Mayor Blackburn informed Piland that the council does not make immediate decisions based on information received during a public input session. She did, however, promise Piland that Ahoskie officials will look into this matter.

At their June 21 meeting, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved the sale of a portion of its Southern Rural Water District to the Town of Ahoskie. That sale affects those county water customers whose property was part of Ahoskie’s most recent annexation – residences and businesses along sections of NC 561 East (Harrellsville Highway), NC 42 West, the Ahoskie-Cofield Road (including Willoughby Road, Waldorf Lane, VIP and Lincoln Roads) and NC 561 West (Colonial Acres and Oriole Drive areas).

The approved bill of sale was in the amount of $153,065. According to county records, the sale affects 137 “water service” locations.

That agreement also covers eight customers who are not in an area annexed, but are served by the rural water district.

“There’s no way to get water to them (the eight customers) but through those same lines,” Charles “Chuck” Revelle, the attorney for the commissioners, said at the June meeting. “(The former county water customers) will be served according to the same policies applied to other (water) customers in the Town of Ahoskie. We don’t control the rates set by the Town of Ahoskie or the rates that will be applied to these (new) customers.”

The initial phase of hooking up the town’s newest water customers began June 23. Hammond said the first area to receive the town’s water lines will be NC 561 East between Georgia-Pacific and Holloman Lane.

The second area of water line installation, which began simultaneously with the NC 561 project, will be along the newly annexed areas of the Ahoskie-Cofield Road. That will include much of the area northeast of Malibu Drive.

The third and fourth areas for construction will be NC 42 South and NC 561 West (Colonial Acres and Oriole Drive areas).

While the annexed areas along NC 42 West and NC 561 West do not have an official start-up date in regards to installing the town’s water lines, Hammond said the entire project is scheduled for completion over a 75-day period.

“Barring any bad weather, we’re expecting the water lines to be completely installed by September 8,” Hammond said. “After the project is completed, the town will move into the areas and begin replacing all the old water meters with new state of the art radio reads.”

Ahoskie will also install sewer lines to the newly annexed areas. Hammond said that work will not begin until sometimes early next year.

The town’s new wastewater treatment plant is scheduled to go on line in March of 2011.