UPDATE: CFPUA contractor did not obtain permit before removing trees

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) –CFPUA is developing a new policy and reviewing current projects that require tree removal permits, after the City of Wilmington ordered the utility to stop clearing trees along River Road.

On Monday, CFPUA stopped the clearing of an easement it owns within the RiverLights subdivision after receiving a stop-work order from the City.

CFPUA says the work was part of the initial phase of a project to install a new 16-inch water main to serve residential and commercial customers in the southern part of New Hanover County, including portions of RiverLights.
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The area involves a 30-foot wide, 4,000 feet-long water main easement that runs through an undeveloped tract of land within RiverLights. CFPUA said only about 800 feet has been cleared so far and all work has been stopped.

CFPUA said their standard procedure has been that the construction contractor is required to obtain the tree removal permit as part of the work to prepare the easement for water or sewer main construction.

But in this case, CFPUA said the tree removal permit was not obtained by the contractor. This also implied that City staff was not aware of the tree removal activity until they received calls from nearby residents.



One of those residents was Jonathan Deputy, who lives in Silva Terra. Deputy told us when River Road was moved closer to his neighborhood to make room for the RiverLights development, there was an agreement to leave a natural buffer of trees.

“Certainly they can’t come back and put up 50-year-old pine trees that have been put down,” said Deputy, when WWAY spoke with him on Tuesday.

CFPUA said they are working with the City to address specific concerns arising from the necessary tree removal in this water main easement, and how we can enhance intergovernmental communication about similar projects moving forward.

CFPUA will also look at options, based on input from the City and local property owners near the River Road easement, to provide a vegetative buffer in the area where trees were removed, while still minimizing risk of damage to the water main and allowing access for long-term maintenance.

CFPUA will develop a policy change to take on the task of obtaining the necessary permits for tree removal required for new construction. Also, they are reviewing all current CFPUA projects that require tree removal have obtained the necessary permit for this.