It's a potentially controversial idea to speed up Wilmington's sewer repairs. State and local lawmakers are working together to expedite repairs to Wilmington's troubled sewer system. The latest development: Sen. Julia Boseman has introduced a bill that would give the city the power of eminent domain. "The power of eminent domain is a power granted by state and federal constitutions to acquire land or at least easements on land for public use," says Roger Lowery, a political science professor at UNCW. The bill would give the city a right normally reserved for state and Federal governments. Perhaps the first project that city leaders would use the new eminent domain power for would be a new section of pipe that would start at the Bradley Creek pump station and extend all the way to the Northside Treatment plant near the airport. And that would likely mean digging up private property and possibly even buying entire pieces of property to connect the two sites. And while city leaders like the idea, Council Member Pat Delair does have some concerns. "My two issues with this are: how much authority does this take away from the city council in eminent domain proceedings? And my other big concern is Julia Boseman had put in her bill not only water and sewer lines but water treatment plants. And that is a whole different type of eminent domain. We're not talking about getting easements now. Potentially we're looking at actually taking land to do expansions of plants," says Delair. The big question in people's minds is: will this speed up the sewer repair process? Senator Boseman says granting the city the power of eminent domain could speed up the land and easement acquisition process by three to six months.
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