Concerned neighbors plan to appeal hospital’s emergency well project

Concerned neighbors plan to appeal hospital’s emergency well project

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Neighbors in the Glen Meade community are taking a stand against New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s emergency well project, saying the project is incompatible with their neighborhood.

According to Paul Carr, the emergency management manager at the hospital, the well house would allow NHRMC to provide its own water source, and sustain itself during a storm like Hurricane Florence. Carr said the hospital came close to losing water during the storm since it relied on city water from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

“The companies we depend on, they’re evacuating too, and they can’t come support you," Carr said. “We here have to be able to sustain (ourselves)."

Mac Cunningham’s home is next to the construction site. He said he and his neighbors’ biggest concerns are noise and possible odors and chemicals coming from the property.

“(The project) just doesn’t belong," Cunningham said. "Industrial sized equipment doesn’t belong in a residential area.”

According to Cunningham, the city and hospital shouldn’t have labeled the project as a pump or sewer station. He said it’s not an accurate definition of the project because noise and size weren’t considered in the determination of the definition.

Cunningham added there aren’t any buffers between his neighbor and the hospital, and this project will make things worse.

“Livability is where you enjoy relaxing," Cunningham said. “You go home to refresh yourself to go back out into the world, and with this proposed construction, they’ve removed the livability factor for those of us in the area.”

According to Carr, after the construction, there won’t be noise. He said there also won’t be any chemicals on or odors coming from the site.

“It would be no different than having a pool at your house and having a maintenance guy come over and treating it with your over the counter bleach or chlorine or product that you would have," he said. “It won’t be emitting any fumes.”

Carr said he understands the neighbors’ concerns, and the hospital has tried to be as accommodating possible to the neighborhood. NHRMC has tried to make it fit in aesthetically by matching the community’s red brick fence around the site.

The hospital did consider other locations for the well house but Carr said this is the best location to get to the underground aquifer. He said it is also the best spot from an environmental and sustainability standpoint, and gives the hospital direct access to it because it is close by.

“We live by the motto of leading our community in outstanding health," Carr said. “This is one more piece we are putting in place to really show we’re leading our committing to outstanding health.

“If we lost all resources, we are that beacon of light for the community. We are the only ones with the lights on.”

The project has been approved by the city’s technical review committee but neighbors plan to appeal the project at a board of adjustment meeting next Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Harrelson Crescom Bank Building in downtown Wilmington on the fifth floor.

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