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Planning Board considers water needs of new gated developments

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

As developers rush to gobble up rural land across the county, fire departments and county planners are working on a plan to assure they’ll have water to fight a fire at one of these new subdivisions.

Later this month, the Rowan County Planning Board will consider an ordinance requiring developers in rural areas to provide a replenishable water supply for fire protection.

Under the proposal, the county will require that new residential subdivisions have a water source within one road mile of the development.

The proposed ordinance is believed to be the first of its kind in the state.

The water point has to provide a minimum of 30,000 gallons and must be replenishable.

According to fire officials and planners, firefighters need 30,000 gallons available to provide a fire flow of 250 gallons per minute for two hours.

If there is no water source within one mile, the developer will be required to provide a source.

The water source could be a pond, a tank or possible other options.

In some cases, fire departments could share in the costs.

Planners and fire department officials have shopped the Internet trying find a similar, existing ordinance. They found none.

A driving force behind the proposed ordinance is the county’s goal to improve the ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rating of many of the rural departments, taking them from a 9 to a 6. That change brings significant insurance savings to home owners.

“They have to have the equipment and the personnel,”said County Planning Manager Ed Muire. “But water is one of the key things” in lowering the departments’ ratings.

Planners use information and guidelines from the Insurance Service Organization to develop the proposed ordinance.

Officers of rural fire departments and developers have been involved in the early stages of developing the ordinance. Former County Fire Marshal Art Delaney also played a key role in pushing for water points and convincing developers of the benefit.

Miller Ferry and West Rowan fire officials have been involved in the discussions for months. Both fire departments have seen an increase in major developments that will feature luxury homes.

Developers in the West Rowan and Miller Ferry districts have agreed to install water points, although the county hasn’t adopted the ordinance.

Dan Fisher, developer of Sunset Pointe on High Rock Lake, agreed to requests from Miller Ferry.

Michael J. Melicia, developer of Steeple Gate on N.C. 150 in Mount Ulla, has installed a water point, working with the West Rowan Department.

Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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