Parcels adjoining North Wilkesboro’s boundary or within the town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) must now be voluntarily annexed before they can be served by town water or sewer services.

This action was approved as an addition to town code in a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, with Commissioner Bert Hall casting the lone dissenting vote.

Joe Woodie recently requested extension of town sewer service to his property, which is near but outside the town’s ETJ and not contiguous to a town parcel, without being annexed. Speaking Tuesday to the board during a public hearing, Woodie said requiring annexation to get town water or sewer service “sounds like forced annexation.”

Woodie, a former Wilkes County commissioner, added that a lawyer told him there was a 50-50 chance of this requiring being upheld as legal in court. Woodie requested extension of a town sewer line to his parcels making up a combined 12 acres on Sunset Drive off N.C. 18 South.

Hall said, “I agree with Mr. Woodie. I don’t think it’s right to say you have to come into the town for water or sewer, and I’m totally against this. If you went to court, they probably wouldn’t say it’s forced annexation, but as a matter of principle I think it is.”

Commissioner Debbie Ferguson said, “What we haven’t mentioned tonight is that the town has a long history—a tradition—of asking people to come into the corporate limits when we allow them to tap on to our water. If not for tradition, there might be a different story here, but what happens to all the people we have required to come into town?”

Blake Lovette, sitting in the audience, told the board, “I’d like to voice my opposition to allowing anyone to hook onto water and sewer without being annexed into the city and paying the same taxes that I do.”

After voting against the change in the town code, Hall said, “I very seldom disagree with (town) staff, but when I feel a certain way I’m going to vote that way.”

Interim Town Manager Ed Evans responded, “And that’s what you need to do.”

Splash pad legal action

The commissioners unanimously approved a motion to have Town Attorney Gary Vannoy consult with District Attorney Tom Horner regarding potential legal action against the contractor for the long-delayed “splash pad” beside the Smoot Park Pool.

The splash pad was supposed to open May 27 after originally being scheduled for completion by Dec. 1, 2017.

Evans said the contractor, James “Buster” Mastin of North Wilkesboro-based Mastin Aquatic Recreation LLC, is now telling the town it should open by mid-July. The latest delay was blamed on revised engineering plans not being received yet at the Wilkes County Health Department.

Hall made the motion to have Vannoy consult with Horner and said, “I drive by there three or four times a day, and it looks to me like they’re not gaining much ground. To me, it looks like he’s perpetrated a fraud on us.”

Evans told the board, “It’s frustrating, but I know it’s more frustrating for you because you’ve been dealing with it a lot longer than I have. I know our attorney has, too.”

Mastin told the town in March he would finish the splash pad in mid-May and waive about $7,200 in payments the town still owed. The town already paid him $120,930 for work on the project, which contractually should have been completed by Dec. 1, 2017.

Mastin signed a contract with the town on Sept. 1, 2017, after submitting a bid of $85,794 to convert the existing Smoot Park children’s pool into a spray or splash pad water play area with water cannons, spray jets, pop jets and other features.

Other public hearings

Following public hearings that elicited no comments, the commissioners approved changes to town code that:

• allow the board to vote during work sessions on fourth Thursdays regarding issues with time-sensitive deadlines;

• allow fire department medical personnel to assist emergency medical services personnel during emergencies; and

• require certain types of buildings—including high rises, gated communities and those housing hazardous material, with fire alarm or fire sprinkler systems or with elevators—to purchase a 3200-series Knox Box or Knox Switch (ranging from $323 to $382) for rapid emergency entry into the buildings.

Other matters

Also on Tuesday, the board:

• adopted a resolution supporting seeking redevelopment opportunities for the long-closed North Wilkesboro Speedway;

• adopted a resolution supporting keeping the current ABC Control System. This is in opposition to recent proposed state legislation allowing privatization of liquor sales. The resolution was adopted after North Wilkesboro ABC Store Manager Jimmy Lovette stressed the importance of local revenue from and local control over the sale of liquor;

• approved a budget amendment allowing the town to pay $318,555 to Garner-based Municipal Engineering for preliminary engineering plans and consultation from 2016-19 related to the N.C. 115 South/Lynnwoode sewer line extension project that was put on indefinite hold in April due to rising project costs;

• approved a budget amendment allowing the court-ordered payment of $1,080.25 to Wilkes County Schools as a result of drug money seized by the North Wilkesboro Police Department; and

• adopted a resolution authorizing the sale of the 912 Main Street building to Joshua Allen of Arden for $65,784.72. Allen has said he plans to open a barbershop on the bottom floor of the building and live in the top-floor apartment with his wife and children.

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