Commissioners discuss area water and sewer projects, rezoning

First Posted: 9/21/2009

DOBSON While three public hearings were scheduled for last nights meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, the commissioners were the only ones to speak on the matter of rezoning.
But one of the lengthiest items of discussion was a proposed water and sewer project.
Adam Kiker of Hobbs, Upchurch and Associates gave a presentation to the board about a possible project to create a water district in the Prison Camp Road, Caves Mill Road, Twin Oaks Road area. The project could cost $1.67 million but could possibly receive United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development funding.
Jack Gardin, water and sewer projects manager, said his department has received some requests by residents and non-residents of that area to run water lines. He said his department sent out surveys to see if people were interested in having county water available to them. They are still collecting the surveys.
Some members of the board had concerns about moving too quickly to pursue additional water and sewer projects.
Commissioner Paul Johnson said: I think first of all, this board has been very aggressive in doing water and sewer projects, and certainly this project has merit. But I think second of all, at the last meeting, our assistant county manager for budget and finance gave us a report, and I think her recommendation was, on some things, we need to start pulling the reins back a little and see where were going.
Johnson went on to say he would hold off on the project until they knew what the cost would be. He said he didnt want this project to hinder other projects currently in the works.
Why would we take on this large of a project with all the others weve got going? Johnson asked.
Craig Hunter, board chairman, said: I would agree that we need to catch a breath on all these projects and get our thoughts tied down … Id be more comfortable if we could get all of that reined in and honed in before we start allocating.
The board decided to table the issue for one month until they could look at other potential projects in Pilot Mountain and Elkin that could take priority. The county will begin receiving bids on Sept. 30 for the Elkin-Gentry Road water line project.
At the beginning of the meeting, no one came forward to speak during the open forum or public hearings, so the commissioners went on to approve various items.
First, the board approved to amend article 12 of the Surry County Zoning Ordinance text to raise the maximum building height in most zoning districts from 35 feet to 50 feet.
The board next approved a rezoning of 0.74 acres on US Highway 601 South from a rural agriculture district to a highway business district, contingent upon the owner of the property being contacted by the county.
The final rezoning approved by the board was for a parcel of land off of Riverside Drive. It was reclassified from a restricted residential-conditional to a planned residential conditional district. This was requested by White Sulfur Springs of Mount Airy. Burke Robertson of the White Sulfur Springs project was also appointed to the Surry County Tourism Authority.
A project that County Manager Dennis Thompson said he was particularly interested in was an energy performance audit and contract. Steve Zip of Johnson Controls gave a PowerPoint presentation to the board about how an energy audit and contract could help the county save money on energy costs.
Johnson Controls did a preliminary audit of the countys energy costs. They found that the county pays $1.47 per square foot for energy, which Zip said was a little high. Zip presented some suggestions to the board that could be substantiated by an audit, such as replacing old heating and cooling equipment that may soon go out and purchasing a centralized energy management system. Zip said the county could see energy savings of 25 to 35 percent if they went with the suggestions. Thirty percent savings would amount to roughly $111,000.
If the county contracts with an energy performance company, Zip said the improvements must pay for themselves over a certain amount of time or the company will have to pay the shortfall. No tax increases would be required and energy savings are guaranteed. Zip said the project would help the county become more green.
The board then authorized the county manager to advertise to a request for proposal for an energy audit and performance contract offer. County Manager Dennis Thompson thanked the board for hearing the request.
The board will meet again on Friday at 8 a.m. at the Surry County Government Center to hold a public hearing on economic development and other county business.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or at 719-1952.

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