A Great Idea for Slowing Growth - TribPapers

A Great Idea for Slowing Growth

Weaverville – The Town Council of Weaverville is concerned about water. They devote a great deal of effort to planning for, implementing, and striving to guarantee that this essential resource will be available for the region’s anticipated growth.For the Weaverville Town Council, water is an issue. This is an issue they spend a lot of time talking about, working on, and trying to make sure will be there for the future growth of Weaverville and the area.

The problem is that developers have discovered Weaverville and the North Buncombe area. The last area where development can realistically take place in Buncombe is in the northern part, and developers are jumping in with both feet to buy up and develop the land. Growth is now occurring so fast town council is worried water is about to run out. See, many developments spring up around Weaverville outside the town limits, but they all want water. Weaverville has it—for now.

Part of the problem is that the state makes the town estimate water usage at 400 gallons per day per unit or resident. In reality, the average unit or residential home only uses about 120 gallons per day. However, until someone moves in, the state makes the town use the estimated 400 gallons, which runs the water needed up, on paper anyway. 

Therefore, on paper, with the currently planned projects, Weaverville has surpassed 70 percent of the current capacity of its 1.5 million gallons per day (MGD) plan. At 80 percent, the town needs to have an expansion plan in place and be ready to pull the trigger to make it happen. At 90 percent, the town has to stop selling water.

In reality, as learned at the January meeting of the council, the town is only using about a third of the 1.5 MGD. That’s right, about half a million gallons, or about 33 percent. Reason to panic? Hardly. The state’s unrealistic numbers are driving the fear.

What to do? Well, Weaverville Councilman Andrew Nagle may have come up with an interesting idea on how to control the growth in and around Weaverville. It would also help the town understand better when they might need to start the more than $13 million expansion of the water treatment plant.

“One of the ways we get the 80 percent down is to stop approving projects. When they come on board, it goes to their actual use. Then we approve another one,” Nagle said at the meeting.

The idea of not approving additional projects until others in line have been approved would slow growth and allow the council to see when they need to start on the expansion of the water treatment plant or if the town needs to expand it at all.

Councilman Doug Jackson responded, “You can’t make developers wait.” To which Nagle replied, “You can, man.”

Well, you can make them wait, but the question is, will they? These developments take, on average, two to four years to be finished. You could have a certain number in the queue, say up to 75% of capacity. Then, as they go from the estimated to actual usage drops, other developments would be allowed to seek water and approval from the town for their project, never allowing the actual or estimated percentage to exceed 75% of capacity without triggering the expansion of the water plant.

This method would slow development growth and allow the town to manage the growth better and plan the expansion of the water treatment plant. If developers don’t want to wait, they can move on to develop somewhere else, and all the better, some would say. Unless the council wants development full speed ahead? Anyway, thanks, Councilman Nagle!