Weddington group drops water tower lawsuit

WEDDINGTON – Residents in Weddington who filed a lawsuit against the town and county earlier this year following the approval of building a water tower on Hemby Road have dropped their lawsuit, but may still receive the ground tanks they have called for as an alternative to a tower.

“None of (the plaintiffs’) properties butt up to the water tower, so there was a chance to not have a standing in the court,” said Weddington resident Linda Watt, who was involved in the lawsuit. “And Union County was countersuing us for the costs, and if we didn’t have a standing we could have been liable for the costs.”

Although the lawsuit against Weddington and Union County has been dropped, the group opposed to the nearly 180-foot water tower behind the Providence Volunteer Fire Department on Hemby Road received some reassuring news at the Monday, May 5, Union County Board of Commissioners meeting. Commissioners voted to halt construction on the already-approved tower and take a look at costs for a ground storage system on the site as an alternative.

The decision came after the Stop Hemby group presented information to the board indicating the costs for a ground tank could be less than the elevated tower, according to estimates received from businesses in the area that have developed ground tanks in the past. No timeline has been set for when the county will take a vote on moving forward with the elevated tower or the alternative.

“I understand, and have heard from a number of people in Weddington about their concerns,” Vice-Chairman Jerry Simpson said at the meeting. “… (We need) to look at all the options. I would like to move that we request that staff conduct a review a … cost comparison.”

Union County Public Works officials said the ground storage option would be too costly for the county when discussing the project at various meetings last year with the Weddington Town Council. There currently are not any ground storage tanks in the Union County Public Works system.

Although the Stop Hemby group started its efforts in hopes of moving the project to another location, it has since shifted focus to bring a ground storage tank to the property as opposed to the tower that was previously approved. Watt and others who are against the construction of the tower say the tower would be too much of an eyesore on the surrounding community and could possibly bring unwanted commercial development.

“This is happening as soon as possible. There should not be any delay and hopefully we can all move forward,” Watt said. “I am looking forward to keeping our Weddington a residential, beautiful place to live, and I hope with the ground storage we can make it beautiful … a park-like area (surrounding the tank).”

The county has been trying to find a location for a new water tower in Weddington for the past eight or so years due to lack of pressure in the northern part of the town and in parts of Stallings where some residents cannot shower or wash laundry or dishes at certain times of the day. There is no estimate now for when the homeowners will see a resolution to their ongoing problems.

“We understand also that time is short,” said attorney Chris Duggan, who represented the citizen group who filed the original lawsuit. “… We want to bring this issue, which has divided the town of Weddington for many years, a resolution. There are people who need water and we know that.”

Prior to this past year’s elections in November, the Weddington Town Council voted to approve the conditional use permit for the water tower, but the two incumbents running for re-election – Daniel Barry and Werner Thomisser – were voted out of office.

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