BOONE — A public hearing about the Boone Water Intake Project will be held on Tuesday, July 14 at 7 p.m. at the Watauga County Courthouse Main Courtroom located on the second floor.
The hearing is required by N.C. law and Watauga County Ordinance before Boone can condemn land in the Farmland Preservation Program for a second intake on the South Fork of the New River.
The controversial issue has been a hot topic between locals of Ashe and Watauga counties for many years and has led to the formation of New River Advocates Inc., an advocacy group for the New River.
The group has previously voiced concerns about the environmental impact a new intake could have on the New River. The group also states that the water intake project is based on inaccurate, misleading and outdated information.
The Ashe County Board of Commissioners recently voted to remove Ashe County from House Bill 875, sponsored by Rep. Jonathon Jordan (R-Jefferson), titled “Restrict Municipal Eminent Domain,” and would require municipalities to obtain county consent before attaining a property through condemnation.
Ashe County resident and New River Advocate Frank Packard appeared before the commissioners during their meeting on Monday, May 18 to explain that the bill would require the town of Boone to get permission from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners before moving the project forward.
According to Packard, there is currently land in Watauga County that is up for condemnation by Boone that will be used for the project.
“This gives us the opportunity to put a brake on this thing and get more information out in a public hearing, public format setting where Boone is going to have to answer some legitimately hard questions,” Packard said.
Ashe County Commissioners expressed concerns that the bill could cause unnecessary friction between municipalities in Ashe County.
“If this bill is passed it could put some friction between the town of West Jefferson, Jefferson, Lansing and the county,” Commissioner Gary Roark said. “They might get the impression that we’re trying to take a right away from them.”
Commissioners voted 3-2 to remove Ashe County from the bill.
The bill was passed by the N.C. House of Representatives and has remained in a committee in the State Senate since April 30.
The New River Advocates Inc. is requesting community members to attend the public hearing stating “The need for the water is not there. The need to protect the river is real.”
The Watauga County Courthouse is located at 842 West King Street in Boone.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.