New construction depends on allocation of water supplies
LOUISBURG -- Guardians of the county's water recommended how Franklin County's governing board should parse out the last of its annual allocation.
And Public Utilities Director Chris Doherty teased that county staff may be able to eke out more allocation this calendar year for developments that are currently left out.
"I'll have my numbers [of additional allocation] done by the end of September," Doherty told Utility Advisory Committee members.
"We can sit down [then] to discuss that."
During the Utility Advisory Committee (UAC) board's Aug. 29 meeting, though, their attention was focused on seven subdivisions and the developers requests for allocation.
In the summer of 2017, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance that places a limit on the amount of lots a subdivision developer could submit for a project and, most importantly, limited to 50,000 gallons per day the amount of water it would make available each year for residential development.
As such, the UAC, which recommends what subdivision projects get approved, met Thursday morning and were presented with seven subdivision requests for 52,804 gallons per day, but only had 18,088 gallons per day left this year to allocate.
Allocation requests are considered by the authority chronologically
• Developers for Province Grande Olde Liberty Phase 1, in the Olde Liberty subdivision off N.C. 96 requested 50 lots and an allocation 8,600 gallons of water per day.
The UAC recommended approval by unanimous decision;
• Developers for Graylan Subdivision, near the Wake County line, requested 42 lots and an allocation of 7,224 gallons per day.
The county's utility staff recommended denying the allocation because the property is in a water supply watershed area and the county's ordinance requires that utilities be adjacent to the property, and none are.
The UAC recommendation to deny was unanimous;
• Developers for Patterson Woods Phase 7, south of Youngsville, pulled their request for 23 lots and an allocation of 3,056 gallons per day;
• Developers for Holden Creek Phase 6, in Youngsville, requested 50 lots and 8,600 gallons per day.
County staff recommended denial because, in Phase 4, 17 of the 28 lots are under construction, but there are currently no usable customers, Doherty said.
And, Phase 5 has yet to be recorded.
The developer, though, noted that Phase 4 has already been recorded and all lots have been sold.
Phase 5 was expected to be recorded by October.
Delaying Phase 6, said Developer Bob Neeb, would put them behind the 8 ball.
"... We're actually doing the engineering for Phase 6 with the intent of starting construction in November or December so we can put lots on the ground for builders in the summer of 2020," he said.
"Our intent is to have it recorded in 2020," he said. "... It's important, in a subdivision like ours [150 lots], to get the water allocation," he said. "If we don't, it's hard to get a contract with builders.
"Also, it's pretty much impossible to get a bank loan if we don't have the allocation," he said. "If we don't get it now, and we go to [the February meeting of the UAC], we've got a problem because we have to wait for February, then the county commissioners in March and that delays everything.
"That's going to put us getting lots on the ground ... and, in the meantime, we lose momentum because builders don't have lots.
"They can't keep going."
Based on the developer's track record, the UAC, by majority vote, recommended approval for Holden Creek's request.
That approval, though, was not given before UAC member and County Planning Director Scott Hammerbacher suggested splitting allocation between Holden Creek Phase 6 and the next developer on the list, Ashberry Village Phase 1C and Phase 2.
That thought did not gain traction, though, and the UAC voted to allocate all of Holden Creek's request.
That left the UAC with 888 gallons per day of allocation to disperse, while the remaining requests from Ashberry and Parkdale Commons Townhomes and Parkdale Townhomes stood at about 24,000 gallons per day.
• Doherty suggested allocating the county's remaining annual balance to Ashberry for five lots. That recommendation received a unanimous vote.
It was at that time that Doherty told UAC members that there could be additional allocation available to the county.
Water allocation is the amount of the resource that the county has committed to provide on paper, but it's not the amount that's actually in use.
As such, Doherty and his staff are performing a data scrub, he said.
Essentially, they are looking at older developments that were approved but their build out times may have expired, meaning the county could reclaim water allocation amounts.
Right now, Doherty said, he and his staff are working to determine if there is allocation the county can recoup "so we get a true, accurate reading on what we have available," he said.
UAC member and County Commission Chair Sidney Dunston said that information would take a lot of the guesswork out of the UAC and county commission's efforts because, essentially, "we're kind of shooting in the dark," Dunston said.
"At this point, yes," Doherty said.
Doherty said he expected to have truer numbers on the county's allocation figures by the end of September and could call an October meeting to discuss the details.
That news set off an idea for Hammerbacher.
"Can we take up the remaining requests at that point?" he said.
Doherty said the county could, if the county could navigate its ordinance that limits residential allocations to 50,000 gallons per day per calendar year.
The board agreed by unanimous decision to meet again to discuss the potential for more allocation.
As for the recommendations that the UAC made, those suggestions will go to the county Board of Commissioners, probably at their Sept. 16 meeting, for ultimate approval.