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Sewer plant denied

Developers of The Woods luxury subdivision planned for Weddington say they'll look at new options for sewer service.

The town council unanimously decided Thursday against approving a conditional-use permit for a privately operated, self-contained sewer system for the neighborhood.

The development company planned to build a plant that would use reclaimed water to irrigate lawns of about 200 multimillion-dollar homes. A group of Weddington residents fought the proposal.

“I'm certainly disappointed and I wish they had gone in the other direction,” Philip Walton of IB Development said after the council's vote. “But I get to walk out of here with a bit of smile on my face because I've got a great engineering team and I'm absolutely confident that they'll find another option. We'll find a way to go forward with this community in a sustainable way.”

Walton did not rule out legal action against the town's decision, but said his company would look at engineering alternatives first.

“The legal part, I'm going to leave that up to the lawyers,” Walton said. “My job is, I have a vision for this community and I have a resolve to see that vision realized and the tools that I have at my disposal are the engineers, the creative people. Those are the tools I'm going to rely on to make sure that vision is realized.”

The decision ended seven nights of public hearings that lasted nearly 30 hours. It was met with applause and cheers by the crowd of about 80 people.

“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 Friends of Weddington aren't quitting yet either. They have plans to celebrate the decision and continue fundraising efforts for the group.

While the council conceded that the plant was not likely to pose a safety risk, the stumbling block was whether it was in keeping with 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.