Proposed wastewater treatment plant causes Southport community controversey

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — A proposed wastewater treatment plant in Southport has residents fired up.

City officials held a meeting Thursday night to try to answer residents’ questions. Tensions were extremely high at the meeting and it was a packed house.

A lot of residents extremely upset, saying the city is not answering their questions.

“I’m stuck having spent my life savings now, building that house and now, you’re going to come in and do this to my backyard,” one resident said.

Most of the residents at the meeting felt like the city was making decisions about the wastewater treatment plant without them.

“Not one individual was notified by the city,” Terry Duff said, who lives right across the street from the proposed sit. “They’ll use the excuse of, ‘Oh, we notified people.’ With all due respect, no you didn’t.”

The city of Southport has proposed to build a wastewater treatment plant just off Highway 87 and Bethel Road. But neighbors nearby have major concerns with the plant being just feet away from their homes.

“It’s close enough that I could throw a baseball from my backyard to one of their sewage pits,” Brian Kelley said. “That’s a problem for me. I don’t want my kids to grow up in that environment.”

Kelley was one of more than a hundred at this meeting. Like others, he’s concerned about the impacts the plant would have on the environment, property values and even his health.

He would like to see the city move the site north. City Manager Bruce Oakley agrees.

“The Board of Aldermen and staff all understand why they don’t want it there,” Oakley said. “We really hope that we can move it up to the north side and build it there. That would probably be best for everyone.”

Oakley says the proposed site is not definite.

Residents are also concerned about the rise in their sewer bills. Oakley had an answer for that at the meeting.

“This is a three-year plan in the raising of the rates,” Oakley said. “It started three years ago. We’ve been incrementally raising them. This is the third year of it. From here on out, they should be small rate increases, if any.”

Oakley says that whether they expanded the county’s plant or built their own, these rates were always the plan.

Although most residents are not pleased with the treatment plant proposal, they most importantly wanted to be heard and included.

“It makes more sense for us to work together to try to move it to a more optimal location, than to work against each other,” Kelley said.

Oakley says the proposal is still very much in the beginning phases.

Residents at the meeting want to see some changes made though, because they think the current site is not what’s best for anyone.

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