The North Wilkesboro commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a formal request to the Wilkes County Joint Planning Board asking the county to extend watershed protection ordinances that would allow the town to build a new raw water intake on the Yadkin River.
The approved resolution states: “The North Wilkesboro Board of Commissioners formally requests the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners and Wilkesboro Town Council extend the provisions of their Watershed Protection Ordinances to the additional 13,573.45 acres identified in Wilkesboro, and along the N.C. HWY 18 corridor near Moravian Falls and Boomer to protect the quality and safety of the water flowing into the proposed North Wilkesboro intake and meet State of North Carolina water quality requirements for water intakes.”
Commissioners have made the building a new water intake on the Yadkin one of their top priorities in the next 12-18 months.
The board has expressed its preference of that option instead of buying water from Wilkesboro.
In 2019, the town’s efforts for an intake near the Yadkin River Greenway bridge were tabled after the town requested but did not receive endorsements from the Wilkes County commissioners or the Wilkesboro Town Council.
Those governing boards cited the difficulty of getting designation of a new protected watershed designated at the intake location on the Yadkin, which is a WS-IV watershed area. Watershed restrictions would inhibit development and depress property values that area, said officials then.
The town’s key objective is to gain county support of WS-IV watershed status for over 10,000 acres under county jurisdiction.
The watershed designation is required by the state for a water intake and is needed before the town seeks final approval of state funds for the project.
North Wilkesboro Town Manager Wilson Hooper said he and Meredith Detsch, the town’s director of planning, will attend the county planning board’s next meeting at the end of June to answer technical questions from the board about the request.
“The state’s formula says that anything 10 miles upstream (of the proposed intake) has to be reclassified, but we’re going to reach out to the state to see it there’s the possibility of amending the acreage if there are topographical features that actually allow water to flow away, and not to, the intake,” said Hooper. “It would make our request a little less burdensome. We’ll keep you apprised of what we find out.”
According to figures provided earlier to the board by Hooper, the estimated cost of building a new intake that provides 6.0 million gallons of water per day is $5.4 million, the same cost as the town buying all its water from the Town of Wilkesboro.
In other options presented earlier to the board, Hooper estimated that it would cost the town $1.1 million to buy water for the downhill portion of the town’s system from Wilkesboro. Another option—building a new intake upstream of Moravian Creek—carried a price tag of $14.6 million, according to Hooper.
Mayor Marc Hauser said, “I’ve been led to believe that county vote is most critical, so I have reached out to sitting (county commissioners) and it’s getting better. We’re not out of the woods yet but it’s better than it was.”
Hauser indicated that he and County Manager John Yates “had a long meeting this week and I shared the table of critical (watershed) areas and he found that very helpful.”
Also on Thursday, the board:
• swore in new police officer Kelsie Hayes;
• approved by consensus the installation of 10-foot-tall retaining fence, at a cost of $58,000, around the twin basketball courts at Smoot Park;
• denied, after holding a public hearing on the matter, the allowance of self-storage units in the central business district and approved changes to the supplemental standards of such units, where allowed, that include no minimum lot size, the allowance of vehicle storage, no maximum size of bays and no maximum height of facilities;
• called for a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on June 30 regarding proposed changes to the water/sewer connection policy, which might include annexation without utility services and doubling the utility rates in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and quadrupling the rates outside the ETJ.