Neighbors fight to stop construction of ‘essential’ hospital water system


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  Neighbors of New Hanover Regional Medical Center are fighting against the construction of something they say will hurt their quality of life. Hospital representatives say they need to install a well and pump station to ensure they can provide water during future disasters like Hurricane Florence.

“Who wants to live next to a big piece of industrial equipment? Well, nobody in this area does,” said neighbor Mac Cunningham.

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Cunningham lives directly next door to a Wilmington property where NHRMC is building an emergency water supply system. He is leading the effort to stop its construction.

“With a 1,200 square foot house, and a big tank that’s over 40 feet long and 20-something feet in the air, that is completely incompatible with the rest of these beautiful homes you see around here,” said Cunningham.

According to public records, NHRMC purchased the property at 1923 Glen Meade Road back in 2008.

Neighbors display signs to bring attention to a construction issue.
(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)

In October of 2018, the hospital submitted an application to build an emergency well house on the residential property. The city formally approved that request last month.

Cunningham has filed an appeal hoping the city will reverse its decision.

“It will detract on the property values we feel sure. We know about some odors coming out of here, which are chemicals such as chlorine. And carbon monoxide that comes out of a huge generator,” Cunningham said.

NHRMC provided WWAY with a rendering of what the project would look like.

Paul Carr, emergency management manager for NHRMC, says there is no other viable location. He says the hospital needs this system to be prepared for future disasters like Hurricane Florence.

“We depend on Cape Fear Public Utilities. If their fuel source doesn’t make it to support them, then they can’t support us,” Carr said.

As far as Cunningham’s concerns about air and noise pollution, Carr hopes to ease those fears. He says the system would only be used during emergency situations.

Rendering of NHRMC emergency backup water system on Glen Meade Rd. in Wilmington.
(Source: NHRMC)

“We’re drilling the well. It goes down, it’s 175 feet down to the Pee Dee aquifer, and then just below at about 125 feet we will have a pump down there, so that will keep it quiet,” Carr said. “As far as chlorine, the only thing chlorine-wise that will be brought in will be by the treatment folks that will come in and test it. So it’ll be no different than buying Clorox at home, your Clorox bleach.”

A Board of Adjustment public hearing will be held on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Harrelson/Crescom Bank building at 115 North 3rd Street in Wilmington in the 5th floor conference room. Anyone wishing to share their thoughts on the project are welcome to attend.