Council Turns Down Offer To Purchase Portion Of Church Land For New Water Storage Tank On Dow Road

The Town of Carolina Beach has been in negotiations with the Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church this year in order to purchase a portion of their property in order to facilitate construction of a new water storage tank and treatment plant at 801 N. Dow Road. The Council purchased the Dow Road property earlier this year for $400,000 and needs additional room to locate the new storage tank adjacent to the existing water tower and the church property. The Town of Carolina Beach has been in negotiations with the Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church this year in order to purchase a portion of their property in order to facilitate construction of a new water storage tank and treatment plant at 801 N. Dow Road. The Council purchased the Dow Road property earlier this year for $400,000 and needs additional room to locate the new storage tank adjacent to the existing water tower and the church property.

Council Turns Down Offer To Purchase Portion Of Church Land For New Water Storage Tank On Dow Road Featured

By / Local News / الأربعاء, 15 آب/أغسطس 2018 14:39

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Carolina Beach Town Council voted unanimously during their December 12th, meeting to purchase property at 801 N. Dow Road to accommodate a future water treatment plant for $400,000. Since that time the Town has been negotiating with the neighboring Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church to acquire land to accommodate a new water storage tank on the Dow Road property.

During the Council's August 14th, meeting, the Council voted not to purchase a portion of the church property for $101,260. The Town will also consider closing an alley that crosses the church property during their September 11th, meeting.

According to Town Manager Michael Cramer, "One of the main components of the improvements to the Town of Carolina Beach water system is the future development of a water treatment plant that would help improve taste, odor and general water quality throughout the community. The town has an opportunity to purchase property adjacent to our current water tower on Dow Road that would be the ideal location for the future water treatment plant."

The Town has been working with  the neighboring Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church to locate a new three million gallon water storage tank behind the church. The church property borders Town property which would be combined with the 801 N. Dow Road property and future water treatment plant.

The older existing million gallon storage tank located off Cape Fear Blvd was built decades ago and has been repaired numerous times over the years. Due to age, the Town began searching for a new location over five years ago. The storage tank helps to meet demand during busier times of the year when summer tourism traffic increases.

On Tuesday December 5th, Cramer explained, "The property from the church will house the new 3 million gallon water tank.  The 801 Dow Road property is for a future water treatment plant."

Cramer said the location is ideal because it is close to primary service lines.

During the December 12th, meeting Cramer explained, "One of the main components of the improvement projects that we have been working on for our water, sewer and storm water improvements is based around improving the water quality for all residents within the Town. Currently we have 13 wells in which we treat some of the water and other wells that we don't treat any water and it's raw water into the distribution lines. One of the things we've been striving for is a location to go and establish a water treatment plant. It just so happens that we were able to talk to a property owner adjacent to our water tank on Dow Road. And that property owner is interested in selling the property. This a great advantage to us because we have a well at that location, we have a water tank at that location and we will be working to try and put a three million gallon water tank on that location and having the water treatment plant there will make efficiencies with any of the plumbing and infrastructure that we have to do there."

Currently there is a 500,000 gallon elevated water tank on the property. The proposed 3-million gallon tank would be built to a height of 50' feet.

The Town has been in negotiations with the church for many months and recently the church named their price for the land, $101,260. The size of the land to be purchased is a little over 10,000 square feet. That's approximately $10 per square foot.

On July 6th, Cramer wrote to Council in an email explaining there is another option that doesn't require purchasing land from the church, but it will cost more to implement.

Cramer explained, "Last month we discussed having a site plan completed for the Dow Rd properties. I contracted with Brian Cox of Engineering Services to perform the site plan analysis of the property.  The site plan analysis cost $1,500.  Attached for your information and review is a site plan that shows two potential locations for the proposed 3 million gallon water tank and the proposed water treatment plant."

Cramer explained, "Option 1 indicates the water tank would be constructed at the top of the property and includes our current property, the street right-of-way and the church property.  This option would require the purchase of the church property at $101,000 and the reuse of the existing building on the 801 Dow Rd property as the water treatment facility.  Total cost for the purchase of the property and building with this option is approximately $501,000."

He explained, "Option 2 indicates the water tank being constructed in the bottom left corner of the property. This option would not require us to purchase the church property, but it would require us to demolish the existing building on the 801 Dow Rd property and rebuild it on the property.  I have received a budget quote for demolishing the building at $21,000 to $25,000.  I have not received any budget numbers for rebuilding the 4,800 sqft building, but we can use the recent construction of the Operations Center as a guide."

He explained, "Using the sqft cost of the Operations building at $58.33 per sqft, we estimate that it would cost the town approximately $280,000 to rebuild the 801 Dow Rd building on the site. Total cost for the purchase of the property. Demo and rebuild of the building with this option is approximately $705,000."

Cramer explained to Council member Leann Pierce on July 6th, "Since the original intent of the project was to use it as a Water Treatment Plant we started making improvements. Things like general clean up, paint, flooring, storage racks. The previous owner left a lot of junk in the building.  We are also allowing the Police Department to store some equipment and Bike Rodeo stuff in one of the rooms.  We have also surrounded the property with a fence and moved some equipment from the Ops Center to that property. Moving the equipment has given us more room for employee parking at the Ops Center and we will soon not need to use the Church parking lot at all for our staff. The church has been great with helping up park our employees for the past year."

Pierce asked, "Have offices been moved over to this building? How much money has been spent so far on any conversions taking place?"

Cramer responded, "Yes, we have moved five staff members into 3 offices. The plan was to have the water well and pump station staff be the staff that ran the water plant.  That way we wouldn’t need to hire more staff.  We have been cross training staff for the past year and now have enough cross trained staff to cut our about $40,000 a year in overtime. This would be the staff in the building and they would share duties of running the plant. So we moved on that plan as soon as we bought the property.  Staff completed clean up and moved in last week.  It cost us approximately $20,000 to up fit the building.  We did all the work ourselves, except for the electrical.  We had budgeted $200,000 to have a contractor rehab Well house  # 2 and instead we had staff manage the project.  Majority of the work was contracted out and it only cost us about $80,000.  I authorized using $20,000 of the saving from Well House # 2 to get a jump on up fitting the water plant space. The other $100,000 of saving went back into fund balance. We have been talking about inviting council over to see the building, now that it is cleaned up.  Maybe we can do that soon."

During the August 14th, meeting Councilman Steve Shuttleworth took issue with the price saying, "So ten times the money. We had an opportunity for the Town to by open space down behind the [Boardwalk] gazebo. We were under contract for $250 to $300,000 a couple different times. It appraised at $75,000, we walked away from the deal because we felt like we couldn't buy it because it was so much over the appraised value. But this is ten times the appraised value."

He explained, "We negotiated with the church numerous different times. We would take over their storm water pond, we did all sorts of things and we are at 10,000 square feet for $100,000? I'm only saying this because I want to be on record that I'm not going to support this. I think the Town needs the water treatment, I just think it's egregious that we are paying ten times the appraised value for a spike strip on a piece of property that's not being used."

Council member Leann Pierce explained, "None of us, I think up here, are particularly happy with the price but we feel like we are put in a position where we really don't have a choice. We want to have this facility for our public to have clean drinking water and we know this is probably one of the only locations that we could do it that won't cost us as much money. I understand Councilman Shuttleworth, I get it 100%, but just don't know what choices we have."

Mayor Joe Benson said, "We're over a barrel here. I don't want this to become some kind of a trend where the Town caves to something so egregious in my view. That the next deal is another fleecing that we don't need."

Shuttleworth said he feels the Town should go back to the church and have another conversation. He said, "That's ridiculous. I think they are taking advantage of us and I think they know it."

Councilman Tom Bridges said he's a member of the church and, "I'm on the session that had to discuss property. Other side, this is not what the church asked to do. It's property they bought. They are still owing some. They have a mortgage on this."

He explained, "The other part of it is, you've got something personally owned by the church. If they want to expand then they don't have that little section. It's their property. They could have said no totally. The other part is, being a part of the Presbyterian Church nationally, the church has to vote as a whole congregation. You have to make sure it passes."

He said, "It's not that they are trying to hold up the Town" and, "I didn't vote when the session voted."

He said, "Because I'm am obligated as a Councilman to vote, this is what I have to legally do. I did not have to vote as a member of session so I chose not to" and he listened to all sides and stayed neutral.

Councilman JoDan Garza responded to Bridges saying, "If you and I were neighbors for as long as the church and Town has been and I came to you and said hey, your backyard, you have a handful of shrubbery and stuff that you haven't used in the past twenty years, I would like to see about purchasing it for that at that value. Of that long standing relationship that you and I have had, you are more than likely going to say, you know what JoDan, that's a really good deal because what you are going to do is going to be beneficial not only for you, for your kids but the rest of our neighborhood. So why not go into that agreement. So like Steve said, the church is out charging ten times that amount off a relationship that we've had with them for an extremely long time for something that will benefit our community, our residents, not now, but 20, 30, 50 years from now."

Councilman Tom Bridges made a motion to approve purchasing the property for $101,260.

The Council voted four to one with Bridges voting yes and Mayor Joe Benson and Council members Steve Shuttleworth, JoDan Garza and Leann Pierce voting no.

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