An overhead power distribution line installed three years ago at a cost of $47,512 is going to cost city taxpayers $109,000 more, according to an agreement approved by the Statesville City Council at its Jan. 11 meeting.
The money will be paid to the Fox Den Country Club, a combination golf course/residential community that opened in 1996 on 400 acres on the east side of Amity Hill Road.
The line was installed to provide electric service to annexed property in the southeast section of the city's electric service area, such as the Larkin development, and to properties yet to be developed, such as the final phases of Fox Den, Thacker and Gemstone.
Because of the turns and curves in Amity Hill Road, Statesville electric crews installed the line above ground along the golf course side of the road, as the "path of least resistance," said Kent Houpe, the city's assistant electric utility director.
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The city considered underground installation, but city policies would have required Fox Den to pay the difference between above-ground and underground installation. Underground lines can cost three to five times more than above-ground lines, and Fox Den chose not to pay the difference.
In 2007 Statesville offered to pay $1,250 to the country club. Fox Den officials rejected that offer, however, setting off a protracted civil suit.
A July 2009 ruling by Iredell County Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridge states, in part, that as a result of the "installation of electrical transmission poles and lines, guy wires and anchors on and over the premises, there has been a partial condemnation of the entire Fox Den premises."
Bridge's decision also says the city's actions reduced the market value of Fox Den. Before the suit was to go to trial, the parties reached the $109,000 settlement.
Attorneys for Fox Den argued successfully that an easement for the lines, which the city had obtained from the N.C. Department of Transportation, did not include all the property on the side of the road where the new lines were installed.
They also argued that the new lines detract from the community's rural setting, make the main entrance less attractive, and are inconsistent with the Fox Den housing that was built earlier with underground utilities.
The council approved the agreement 7-0. Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Johnson asked to be excused since he didn't vote on the original condemnation offer.