Ashe opposes Boone water intake access
by Anna Oakes
The new 4 million gallon-per-day raw water intake facility is planned for a 10-acre site on the South Fork of the New River between Todd and Brownwood in Watauga County. Plans are to transport the water to Boone’s water treatment plant via a transmission line along Brownwood Road and U.S. 421.
As part of the $850,000 sale of 10 acres from the Cooper family to the town of Boone for the water intake site, the deed guarantees a 45-foot-wide, 3,000-foot-long right-of-way and easement on adjacent land owned by the Coopers from the water intake property in Watauga County to Cranberry Springs Road in Ashe County for an access road to the water intake site.
As part of the 2009 deed, the town agreed to build a subdivision-standard road and underground utilities for use by the Cooper family.
A map in the 2009 environmental assessment for the project shows the access road crossing over the county line into Ashe County. According to the map, a portion of the water transmission line also crosses into Ashe County en route to Brownwood Road.
But the Ashe County Board of Commissioners “is opposed to any section of the access road crossing Ashe County land,” according to a Sept. 24 letter from Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell.
The letter was addressed to Steve Garrett of the N.C. Department of Public Safety in response to a request for Ashe County’s signature on federal floodplain documents for the project.
N.C. General Statutes §153A-15 states that “before any county, city or town, special district or other unit of local government which is located wholly or primarily outside another county acquires any real property located in the other county by exchange, purchase or lease, it must have the approval of the county board of commissioners of the county where the land is located.”
“The road’s construction, though belonging to the original landowners, is being financed by Boone and a part of that road will cross into Ashe County land,” Mitchell’s letter stated. “Commissioners have consistently told their constituents that Ashe has no authority over this project, and that appears now to not be the case. Until recently, we were unaware that Boone was paying to have the road constructed, that the Boone-financed road will also be the access road, and part of the road is in the political jurisdiction of Ashe County.”
The commissioners met the week before Sept. 24 to discuss the water intake project.
“We have been told all along … that the water project would not be coming into Ashe County,” said Ashe County Commissioners Chairwoman Judy Poe. “Upon legal advice, we decided that this is the route we needed to take.”
Mitchell’s letter concluded, “The Board of Commissioners will not sign the MT-2 form for the above-referenced project and are opposed to having any portion of the project located in our political jurisdiction."
According to a March 2011 Opinion of Probably Construction Costs from engineering firm W.K. Dickson, $625,000 was budgeted for the access road.
The feasibility of relocating the access road is not clear at this time. Boone Town Manager Greg Young did not respond to questions as of presstime.