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Commissioners OK $892,000 water and sewer expense near Old Beatty Ford

SALISBURY — Rowan County commissioners have approved a hefty investment in infrastructure along the new Interstate 85 interchange near Old Beatty Ford Road.

The $891,768.75 investment will result in three water and sewer utility casings along the interstate. The casings will be vital as new industries move in to previously unserviced areas.

Doug Chapman, engineer with McGill Associates, said existing Salisbury-Rowan Utilities sewer service stops at Pine Ridge Road.

The three new casings are all located within the construction zone of the new interchange, and will be installed by Lance Construction during its completion.

The first two are located along new developments, allowing them to be installed across “open cuts,” Chapman said.

Open cut construction of water and sewer halves the price of projects needing to be implemented through bore and jack. The first two casings have combined total cost of $404,686.40.

Bore and jack were the only options for the third casing.

“Because I-85 is still open for traffic and it still maintains pavement and asphalt that will stay in place, DOT would not allow us to install anything across I-85 open cut,” said Chapman.

Therein, construction of the third casing will cost $487,082.35.

County Manager Aaron Church said the county had ample funds in sales tax money dedicated to both education and economic development.

Of $4.7 million projected two-year sales tax revenue, $2 million has gone to education. Around $900,000 has been spent for economic development, leaving $1.8 million available for use.

Commissioner Judy Klusman said she had concerns about pulling from this fund.

“My one concern as we continue on this path is that we not short our school district,” she said. “I think we’ve got a great start with the $2 million … that we’ve given them, but as we go forward … we need to have balance in what goes out.”

The three casings are just phase one in the quest to bring water and sewer to the area. The cost of the water and sewer service lines, by completion, will total more than $20 million.

“We can’t possibly talk about spending $20 million down there without having an endgame to know how this is going to be paid back,”  said Commissioner Jim Greene. “We can’t even borrow the money without having customers down there.”

Church said a large industrial customer may invest in the area. The added jobs and increase to the tax base, he said, would increase the amount of grant funds available for the project’s completion.

Scott Shelton with the Economic Development Commission said growth in that area was projected.

“We do see that area as the most likely and quickest growth corridor for us because everything’s coming up from Charlotte,” he said. “We’re trying to acquire sites now or get sites in that area, but … it’s really a wait-and-see approach.”

Commissioner Craig Pierce said he strongly supported the development.

“If you want industrial development, you’ve got to have the infrastructure,”  he said. “If you don’t put the infrastructure in, they’re not coming. … I think any development that comes here with approximately a $5 million tax base increase, I think it’s well worth a(n) … investment.”

Chairman Greg Edds said the investment showed that Rowan County was willing to invest in itself, making the county more alluring for investors. The Old Beatty Ford exit could be pivotal for Rowan County, he said.

“What I would say is I think we’re on the right path here …,” he said. “We’re all walking toward a monumental investment. … We’re intentionally marching at a pretty quick pace at this point to make sure we make sure this exit is what it can be. … I hate to use the term economic driver because we’re mocked for that these days, but it will be an economic driver for the community.”

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