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A fluid situation

Published 8:35pm Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wilroy neighbors wonder about their water

The city says it is investigating a possible violation of the family transfer ordinance that is causing deep trouble for a handful of neighbors off Wilroy Road.

One of the neighbors, Azalea Spruill, brought the problem to the attention of the City Council several months ago when she spoke during the meeting about the well issues she and her neighbors had been experiencing.

Azalea and John Spruill say they are considering court action to remedy a situation with the well they shared with three of their neighbors.
Azalea and John Spruill say they are considering court action to remedy a situation with the well they shared with three of their neighbors.

The group of four houses off a private lane came into being in 1998, when the lot was subdivided into four parcels via the ordinance.

The family transfer ordinance is meant to help families in rural areas stay near each other, but it contains a number of restrictions meant to keep it from being abused for profit.

Among those restrictions — properties can only be transferred to family members, and the recipients must hold onto the properties for 10 years before selling.

However, Spruill and her husband John brought their home in 2006, two years before it was supposed to be available for sale.

“The city’s going to investigate,” Azalea Spruill said. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The issue came to light when the residents of the original home moved out, and the electricity was cut off on Sept. 5. That meant the shared well the four houses used no longer worked.

With their water cut off and the city threatening to condemn the homes if they couldn’t get water, another neighbor ran power from his home to connect the well.

A well agreement the homeowners relied upon seems to be void, since the original owners no longer live there, Spruill said.

“To me, this isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” she said.

Most papers related to the case, including the original family transfer, were done by Jesse Johnson, a local attorney and husband of Mayor Linda T. Johnson.

Spruill has dug up city documents from when the transfer was done, saying the homes were supposed to be served by city water. Apparently, that requirement was ignored for years.

“How did it go from city water to shared well?” Spruill said.

Spruill says she has “gotten the runaround from the city” and now is considering taking the matter to court.

At this point, any possible fix for the predicament likely won’t be cheap.

The Spruills cannot put a well in their own yard because of the location of their septic drainfields. A connection charge and availability charge to connect to city water service would cost $3,370, after a $3,250 environmental incentive reimbursement they would initially pay out of pocket.

On-site plumbing improvements to connect to city water at the property line also would cost money. Spruill said a neighbor whose house fronts on Wilroy Road has refused an easement to let the line pass through his yard.

That leaves the Spruills and their neighbors in a rough situation.

“Nobody knows how to fix it,” she said.

  • Roger Leonard

    This is a great example of how some well-connected persons manipulated the law for their own benefit. I have encountered this issue on several occasions and it takes quite a lot to get it right, after the developer evaporates and leaves town. This usually entails a threat of legal action and embarrassment to those who devised such devious plots (pun-intended). There are several of these problem lots with homes on them, right near where I live and they are quietly being resolved to avoid embarrassment to some big names in little Suffolk.

    Profit and manipulation leads to this and some are still trying to slip one by Mr. Mills, whom I feel has done what he could to stop this insanity, but he has been over-ridden too often by council and the manager, present and past… In the agricultural area, were few city services are provided if any at all; we need to approve homes and buildings with caution! I personally know of one person, who tried to get over seventeen homes approved on a lot that legally could only support two. Mr. Mills stopped that, thank-God, but a lawyer on council tried to over-ride that decision several years ago, and failed!

    Then there is the issue were such poor planning and approvals on many issues are dispensed to appease the well connected to downtown and the power-players attached to the Mayor or City Manager, and not just the one in power now. Just look at the mess that is Route 58 now and soon to be, to approve Center-Point/MacDonald site developments on a road that is failing due to traffic. This will not be the last such problem of this nature attached to greed and power, to arise in Sunny Suffolk…

    Suggest Removal

  • Walkingdn2

    Can’t the well have it’s own electrical meter? I found myself in a situation where a community well was connected to a foreclosed home and in order to have water, a meter was installed just for the well.
    Usually with a water agreement there is access to easement to the waterlines for repairs.

    Suggest Removal


    Something smells & it’s not the water!

    Suggest Removal

  • MrJiggyFly

    Interesting. One, the Spruills purchased the property when it was connected to the well and everything was peachy. The sound of poop hitting the fan woke them up and now they are thirsty. Two, because of the placement of the drainfield it is impossible to place a well on the property. The developer of the four lots would have known that from the onset. Three, why did the city give occupancy permits to the four properties and why didn’t the city follow up on the connections? Four, it’s pretty shameful that the property owner that front on Wilroy will not work with the other four to help solve the problem. Oh, and I wonder if any of this was disclosed by the real estate agents or whomever was involved in the selling of the four lots.

    Suggest Removal

  • jrSuffolk

    This is typical of a select group hacking up the Suffolk land into whatever size parcels to reap the most profit. Suffolk would be a much better place if it went back to all farming!

    Suggest Removal

  • powerstar

    The mayor and her husband will be leaving a mess to follow for years. Stay away from the over price city water.

    Suggest Removal

    • So What

      Powerstar has it right on the survey/propertyline. if its real estate related land peddlers in this city that have power are like a tow truck driver, ur going to pay up one way or another they benefit you loose, and they don’t do it with a gun, just a law/tax and my favorite a fee they came up with and then passed it.

      Suggest Removal

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