LINCOLNTON – In an effort to slow some of the impending residential growth in eastern Lincoln County, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to delay permits for connection to the county’s sewer system until the expansion of its wastewater treatment plant has been completed.
“Many of us believe that we’re already at capacity for cars on the in the eastern end of the county,” commissioner Rich Permenter said. “We can’t really make things with NCDOT move as fast as we’d like to, and there’s always going to be a gap between infrastructure and development.”
The county’s wastewater treatment plant is nearing capacity and the board has agreed to expand the facility to double its capacity. State statutes prevent the county from allocating 100 percent of its current capacity until ground is broken on the expansion, but even when that day comes, the remaining capacity will not be allocated for residential development.
“I would suggest that, for residential purposes only, we direct public works to not allocate sewer capacity until the expansion has been completed,” Permenter said. “This should not affect commercial or industrial development since they don’t really add traffic but they do add revenue. This will in no way remove the three-, four- or five-year gap between what we have and what we need in terms of infrastructure, but it certainly has the potential to shrink the gap by anywhere from one year to 18 months, and it should have a ripple effect further down the pipe.”
This move won’t halt construction completely, as developments that have already been granted connection to the county sewer system will continue to build out. What it does is prevent other prospective developers from approaching the county until the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant has been completed, a project that is expected to begin this summer and wrap up near the end of 2020.
Board chairman Carrol Mitchem, as he’s done in the past, reminded fellow commissioners that if they really want to halt development, all they have to do is nix plans to expand the wastewater treatment plant entirely.