Bertie delays water plan

Published 9:15 am Thursday, January 20, 2011

WINDSOR – Bertie County Commissioners were asked to adopt a Water Shortage Response Plan here last week.

They didn’t for two reasons, however.

The first is that Water Department Superintendent Ricky Spivey was not at the meeting to explain his thought process and the second was an objection from County Attorney Lloyd Smith.

The plan, which was suggested by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENER), included criminal penalties for water customers who did not follow guidelines for emergency shortages.

Smith said he wasn’t sure that was an option.

“There is no provision with enabling legislation for you to level a criminal penalty,” Smith said. “Everyone has passed this just as it is, but I would need to see something that allowed you to do this.”

Smith said the plan was taken from the DENER website and had been adopted throughout the state, but as he reviewed the enabling legislation to prepare for the meeting he did not see where the North Carolina General Assembly passed any measure that would allow the county to leverage a criminal penalty.

“I think you can do this and pass the ordinance, but I don’t think you can level any sort of criminal penalty,” he stressed. “You have in here that you could turn someone’s water off and I think that’s far worse than the small criminal penalty that is in here.”

Board of Commissioners Chairman L.C. Hoggard III asked Smith to review the legislation and provide more insight at the next meeting. He also directed Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb to have Spivey attend the next meeting to discuss the issue further.

The board also delayed another water item which was the private waterline extension and hydraulic model discussions. That issue was delayed because inclement weather kept representatives from McDavid Associations Inc. from attending the meeting.

In other business, the board:

  • designated Chairman Hoggard as the voting delegate for both the state and national meetings of county commissioners;
  • heard an update on the possible purchase of property near the entrance of the Recreation Park; and
  • held a public hearing concerning the 2008 Community Development Block Grant Scattered Site Housing program.