The town council unanimously decided Thursday not to allow a private sewer treatment plant to be built in luxury neighborhood The Woods.
Woods developer IB Development had asked the council for a conditional use permit to build the self-contained sewer system that would use reclaimed water to irrigate the lawns of about 200 multi-million dollar homes planned for the neighborhood.
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The decision was met with applause and cheers by the crowd of about 80 people in attendance. The plan for the private sewer plant has been met with staunch opposition from many nearby residents.
“I'm very glad that the council decided to vote this way,” said Debbie Hanrahan, a member of the Friends of Weddington, a group of residents that organized to oppose the plant. “The Woods did a great presentation and they gave a lot of compelling evidence, but the council realized that this is not the right direction at this time for Weddington.”
The council seemed satisfied with the plant technology, which the developer has described as state-of-the-art, as well as the plant's safety.
The stumbling block for the permit request seemed to be the council's belief that the plant did not fit Weddington's land use plan.
“I feel that this is in violation of our land use plan where it says that we are to coordinate our efforts with the county. This could be a precedent for other developers to circumvent the county and their efforts to control growth,” said councilwoman L.A. Smith.
Mayor Nancy Anderson pointed out that the neighborhood's use of reclaimed water was in keeping with a state bill that promotes water conservation and the use of reclaimed water.
“I would just remind the council that we cannot shirk our responsibilities to protect our natural resources,” Anderson said.
“We should be working with Union County Public Works. If these services aren't provided by them, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves,” Councilman Jerry McKee said.
IB Development said the company has no plans at this time to appeal the decision or file a lawsuit against the town.
Philip Walton, of IB Development said, “I'm certainly disappointed and I wish they had gone in the other direction. But at the same time it has not, in the least, dampened our resolve to see this community, and the vision we have for this community, be successful.”
He said the company will meet with its engineers to find another solution.