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N’hampton approves CDBG-I application

JACKSON – The Northampton County Commissioners have been discussing the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program during their regular meetings since August. At the most recent meeting held here on Sept. 17, the Board voted to approve an application for a specific CDBG-Infrastructure project outside of Jackson.

Gary Brown, Economic Development Director for the county, presented the information at the Board’s Sept. 5 meeting and also conducted the public hearing for the project at the Sept. 17 meeting.

“The one project we have ready to roll today is a wastewater project, which is known as the Barrows Mill CDBG-I project. It was first proposed and submitted to DEQ (NC Department of Environmental Quality) in 2015,” Brown explained.

CDBG-I projects have specific requirements which must be met for funding eligibility. These qualifications can include resolving failed infrastructure (failed private septic systems and public dry/contaminated wells), repairing or replacing public sewer lines greater than 40 years old or wastewater treatment equipment greater than 20 years old, and extending water and/or sewer lines to new or existing low-to-moderate income housing.

Barrows Mill Road is located about one mile west of Jackson off of Highway 158. The project, if funded, will serve up to 12 households—11 of which are low-to-moderate income—to connect them to the town of Jackson’s wastewater treatment system. Brown noted the project would cover a 7,800 ft. extension of the wastewater service and the addition of one pump station.

The grant application will request approximately $1.5 million for the project, which will be administered by Northampton’s Public Works Department if funded.

The original deadline for submitting applications was Sept. 28, but Brown noted that deadline has now been extended 30 extra days.

During the public hearing, no citizens elected to speak for or against submitting the application.

Commissioner Charles Tyner, however, did have some questions and comments to make but ultimately gave his support to the project. His concerns stemmed from prioritizing water/sewer projects throughout the county.

“We skipped over one through five to go to number six,” he said about the roads previously identified through a survey as needing water service. “We’ve moved it up to the front. I want everyone to know that it’s moved up because of the timeframe. This is just not the way I would do it.”

Brown stated they would not be able to submit a competitive application for any other project before the deadline, but they were going to pursue looking for other potential CDBG-I projects to apply for during the next funding cycle in Spring 2019.

The Barrows Mill project was first proposed in 2015, Brown explained, because of failing septic tank systems in that specific area. Previous applications, however, did not score high enough to receive funding. He said he believed they would have a better chance this time.

Commissioners Geneva Faulkner and Fannie Greene asked Brown for further clarification on how many people the project would service.

“It’s 11 low-to-moderate income households. There is one household there that would not qualify for subsidy in the project,” Brown explained, saying that household would have to pay the cost for the tap fee to connect.

A church located on the road would also be able to hook on to the line, but they too would have to pay.

“The purpose of the CDBG program is to serve low-to-moderate income individuals in their households,” he continued. “So while those individuals may attend that church, that church is a commercial entity in CDBG lingo and doesn’t qualify for the subsidy.”

Faulkner motioned to approve the application, and Greene seconded. The motion passed unanimously.