LELAND, NC (WWAY) — This week leaders from Beville, H2Go, and the Town of Leland will all meet in their general chambers to discuss business. An overwhelming proposal now sits on the agendas for several officials to mull over following Leland’s “Regional Compromise Plan” for the H2Go reverse osmosis plant.
Belville commissioners will meet for the first time since the proposal Monday. We heard last week from town spokesman and Water PIO president Mike McGill who said the plan was an effort by Leland in pursuit of “money and power.”
Belville on Friday filed an appeal to the April 22 decision by Judge Charles Henry where he called the November 2017 H2Go board of commissioners vote to transfer the utility’s assets to Belville “unlawful and void.”
Before the Monday meeting, Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman issued an open letter to Belville, H2Go, and the community.
“The primary purpose of the plan is to guarantee the purveying of potable water to the residents, businesses, and visitors of the northern Brunswick County area including the Towns of Leland, Navassa and Belville, and the Sanitary District, ” Mayor Bozeman wrote in a statement.
The mayor is expanding the possibilities of a Leland-owned RO plant to provide services not only to H2Go and Belville, but also towns like Navassa as well as Leland communities such as Brunswick Forest and Mallory Creek. Bozeman went on to talk about the claims that this plan would harm voters. Belville contests that is the case and says that the plancontradicts the arguments Leland has made that brought them into the injunction of the asset transfer and plant construction.
“Given Leland’s long series of efforts to destroy the RO plant, they are the last people who should be entrusted with its future,” wrote Mike McGill in the town’s response to Bozeman’s open letter. “Especially since Leland is now asking to disenfranchise more than 50% of H2Go’s voters.”
WWAY’s Andrew James heard from Belville mayor Mike Allen before their meeting and he said the proposal as it stands benefits one town more than the other.
“That’s not a regional plan. It’s a Leland plan,” said Allen. “If they truly want a regional plan, let’s get all of the players to the table.”
“Some people have been spreading a falsehood that voters will be disenfranchised, as they were with the illegal Belville transfer, but that is categorically untrue,” Bozeman wrote. “They do not offer any proof of this because they cannot. The court found that, under the Belville transfer, only Belville’s voters’ votes would count when it comes to Sanitary District governance.”
What Belville is offering Monday is a history of times they say Leland has tried to hinder the plant’s construction dating back to 2014.
“In 2014, after H2GO purchased land in Leland and completed test wells, Leland voted against rezoning for the plant, wasting $700,000,” wrote McGill. “Belville stepped in to save the plant by selling H2GO land.”
McGill goes on to cite several publishings including an interview with then candidate Bozeman talking to the StarNews saying, “H2GO is an unnecessary form of government because the town could just as well be the middleman as a water supplier in the area.”
Bozeman said H2Go would not go anywhere under the compromise plan. She says the utility’s current offerings to customers would continue, a board of commissioners would still remain and she enforced that by saying, “The District (H2Go) will still have a voice in the wholesale water rates and the Town of Leland will act in good faith.”
“A special enterprise fund will be established that will be strictly used for the water treatment plant,” Bozeman wrote. “All entities will purchase wholesale water at the same rate.”
It’s an assurance that Belville says does not reflect Leland’s past on the project.
“Leland has spent years of its time – and millions of its citizens’ dollars – trying to make H2Go and the RO plant disappear,” McGill told WWAY.
You can read the Mayor’s Open Letter below. We will update this story with more from tonight’s meeting in Beville.