WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A dispute over land use plans is causing a controversy in one Wilmington neighborhood. The CFPUA wants to build a new sewer pump station in the Masonboro Sound Road area. Some neighbors don't like the idea, but plans are moving forward regardless.
This is a project that has been in the works for years. The CFPUA has tried to reach a deal with property owners but recently reached an impasse in negotiating. Now, officials have condemned the property and construction of a new pump station will likely begin very soon. But some people say that's a bad idea.
Jack McPhail's grandparents built a home on Masonboro Sound over 130 years ago, and it's been in his family ever since.
"I grew up here and my brothers and sisters grew up here. My aunts and uncles were born in this house," said McPhail. "So, we have a real love for the sound and we don't want to see the sound de-filed."
Due to increased development over the years, there's now a need for a new sewer system on the sound. CFPUA officials have condemned an area, roped off by caution tape for construction of a new sewer pump station. The government does have authority to do that for projects meant for public use. CFPUA spokesman, Mike McGill says the project will benefit the community.
"This will take septic systems out of play that could leach waste into the sound and put these people on a centralized system that will substantially increase water quality," said McGill.
However, folks like Jack McPhail and his family aren't convinced.
"We're concerned if there is a spill that waste will flow into the stream, and into the marsh, and then into the sound," said McPhail.
McPhail says it would be better to place the station further away from the marsh. He says he offered free land to the CFPUA, but the CFPUA told us a different story.
"First of all, it was not free," said McGill. "We did look at that alternative site with the city of Wilmington but unfortunately it just didn't work."
McPhail and his family have gathered signatures on a petition. The online version has over 500 signatures. However, McGill says only 8 of those signatures come from people who live in the area. Despite the validity of the petition, it appears that any efforts to stop the pump station plans are not working. The project's design work has already been approved and construction is expected to begin in the fall, pending a vote from the CFPUA board.
Right now, both sides are negotiating a fair market value for the property through the process of litigation. The McPhail family is entitled to some sort of payment but a final amount has not yet been determined.
CFPUA board members are in the final stages of approval for the contract. A final vote is expected to take place at their next meeting in September.
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