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County puts freeze on NEI building permits

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- A decision by New Hanover County has local realtors concerned. The county began a freeze Thursday on new building permits for any construction project that sends waste to the northeast interceptor sewer line. Local Realtor's Association president Jonathan Barfield said, "Three words, bad, bad, bad." He says the state's decision could mean an economic disaster. Barfield said, "If you look at businesses coming in here, and you have this hard moratorium in place then you will chase those businesses away instead of bringing them to us." Barfield says the state's decision could also cost some people their livelihood. "When you look at folks who work for builders, carpenters, painters, plumbing, electricity, the appraisers, mortgage -- all of those folks are going to be adversely affected by the sewer moratorium." Repairs have already started on the Northeast interceptor, but City officials still have to work out a contract with the state to fine tune the project. A spokesperson for the City of Wilmington says council members are working diligently to get the faulty sewer line fixed and builders back to their jobs. Barfield says county residents can also take proactive steps while the repairs are being made. "When you take showers, take shorter showers. When you water your lawn, make sure that water is actually going on your lawn and not into the streets. Those are things that we as a community can do to lower the flows going into the NEI." Not all construction will come to a screeching halt. Developers who want to build near the NEI can still request a permit if they plan to use a septic system. A City spokesperson say it's up to the state when the building ban will be lifted. City and county representatives plan to meet with state officials next week.

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