Council approves wetland creation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 24, 2006

MURFREESBORO – After countless delays to a proposed expansion of the town’s wastewater treatment facilities, the Murfreesboro Town Council agreed Friday to pay for additional wetlands creation.

Friday’s special meeting was conducted specifically to address the issue of the wastewater treatment facility expansion.

The decision to pay for the wetlands creation will allow a moratorium placed on the town in 2003 to be lifted and will hopefully pave the way for construction to begin on the town’s sewer system.

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On several occasions, the council was confident all requirements had been met to allow construction on the site adjacent to the Meherrin River, only to be stalled by what appeared to be a never ending trail of regulatory requirements.

The most recent delay came in September when officials with the Ecosystems Enhancement Program (EEP) disagreed with previous wetland designations by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE).

EEP is a division of the NC Water Quality Division.

It was the Water Quality Division that placed the original moratorium on the town three years ago.

Upon learning of the EEP’s decision, members of the council were miffed that they had not been previously informed of the organization’s role in the project’s approval.

Back in September, Councilman Bill Theodorakis was among those who questioned the continuous delays.

&uot;It seems like every time we think we’ve met all the requirements, something else comes up,&uot; Theodorakis said. &uot;We need a list that details every aspect of regulatory concern so that we can move forward with our expansion.&uot;

The cost for having EEP design and create the additional two acres of wetlands needed to satisfy the Water Division’s requirements is $81,446.

Robert Graham, an engineer with Finch/Boney and Associates informed the council that the decision to allow EEP to create the needed wetlands should allow the town to receive their 400 and 404 certifications.

The certifications are construction permits required by the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) and are issued by the Water Quality Division to individuals and organizations desiring construction under the guidelines of the Clean Waters act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, both of which are regulated by the USACE.

Finch/Boney is the company hired by the town to design and construct the expansion project.

Graham also detailed the estimated expense for a sludge removal effort to coincide with the wetlands creation.

Finch/Boney received a proposal from Synagro a national sludge management company located in Baltimore MD, to remove and dispose the estimated 2,500 tons of sludge created by the construction effort.

According to Graham, the cost of sludge removal and disposal would be approximately $105,000.

The council agreed to begin the financing process in anticipation of a final approval from the Division of Coastal Management, the organization which enforces the CAMA.

Councilwoman Gloria Odom questioned Graham on the possibility of future delays.

&uot;Based on what you have presented to us, I have to assume there is no standard policy or procedure for this type of initiative?&uot; Odom asked &uot;Are you guys going to come back six months from now with something else.&uot;

Graham was confident there would be no further regulations to navigate.

&uot;Planning and specifications for the construction are the next step,&uot; Graham. &uot;The delays have just been an issue of dealing with all applicable agencies.&uot;