ONLINE UPDATE: Water line fix poses town risks

by Kelly Corbett
Thursday, January 23, 2014

 The Town of Wrightsville Beach will valve off a water line crossing underneath a home at 4 Sunset Avenue for periods of demolition and construction to a new home, fixing a problem first realized a decade ago.

The option, one of four presented to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen on Thursday, Jan. 23, poses town risks but was approved unanimously after a lengthy discussion.

The risks associated include possibly delaying fire department response time. Also, the contractor will be constructing the house over an active water line, which could result in damage to the new home and surrounding homes.

“We’re obviously accelerating this to accommodate the construction timeline,” said Alderwoman Lisa Weeks. “… I don’t think that the property owner should have to pay for this.”

With the decision comes an $18,500 budget amendment for the project construction from the water and sewer general reserves to the water contracted services line item.

Town staff will start working on the project immediately, beginning on Friday, Jan. 24. The town will look for an engineer to complete the work, but town staff from the water and sewer department will help to speed up the process from two months to an estimated six weeks of work.

The waterline appears to have been constructed in 1961, town manager Tim Owens said.

The current house was built on the property in 2003, and the town realized the situation in 2004.

Town attorney John Wessell said 10 years ago the Town of Wrightsville Beach tried to get an easement from all of the homes impacted by the water line.

“They were notified that there was a water line there, and we allowed them to build over it,” Owens said.

The new owner, Jim Petrilla, as of 2013, said he had no idea the water line was underneath the home.

“I know that the prior owner knew about it,” Wessell said. “… They were contacted and asked to give an easement.”

Petrilla and Wessell disagreed if the town bears the responsibility to correct the issue. A similar situation was fixed in the early 90s to a neighboring property, Mayor Bill Blair said.

The most conservation option, Option No. 1, estimated at about $6,000, would have delayed the home construction until a water line on Meier Street could be constructed with the existing water line relocated. The other two options were to relocate the water line around the house in opposite directions.

Owens said they were difficult options town staff put together that fix the problem short term. He added later that one positive is nobody is connected for service to the water line.

“That made it a little bit easier,” Owens said. “Guess we did something right for a change.”

Earlier in the meeting, board members unanimously approved the North Carolina Department of Transportation plans, which will cost an estimated total of $70,000 to $90,000 for the project design, bidding and implementation.

The improvements, featuring new mulch, plants and shrubs, will cost the town no more than $3,000 annually, Owens said.

No one from the full room spoke during the public hearing.

Shortly after, board members also made appointments to five town boards and committees following a meet and greet one hour earlier.

The votes were silent with each member turning in ballots for each seat.

Janice Clark, David Culp, Ken Dull and Andy Hall will serve on the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board. The planning board was the most sought-after board or committee.

Sue Bulluck, Allen Rippy, Marla Doster and John Andrews will serve on the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee.

Trish Green and Charlotte Murchison will serve on the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Catherine O’Quinn and Susan Collins will serve on the Historic Landmark Commission. Stephen Capps will serve as an alternate on the Wrightsville Beach Board of Adjustment.

The full story will be printed on Thursday, Jan. 30.

email kelly@luminanews.com

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