After refusing Clayton’s offer for an easement on his land, a Johnston County commissioner has delayed a different sewer project the town is planning.
Commissioner Allen Mims on Monday asked that the county table an agreement that would allow Clayton to send sewage to Raleigh’s Neuse River Treatment Plant through 2027.
Clayton is building a sewer pipeline to Raleigh and needs to amend a former agreement made with the city in 2007. Johnston County must also sign the agreement, but only to acknowledge an existing deal with Clayton. The county had previously agreed to use capacity at Raleigh’s treatment plant but transferred that capacity to Clayton.
Mims said he wanted to delay the county’s approval for at least 30 days while he talks with neighbors in the path of Clayton’s proposed pipeline to Raleigh.
Mims said part of his motivation comes from his own dealings with the town. Mims lives along the route of a different sewer line project that Clayton is planning along Sam’s Branch Creek.
Mims, who said he’s unhappy with how the town has treated him, refused to accept the town’s offer of $5,300 for an easement on his land.
The Clayton Town Council has agreed to condemn Mims’ property and take the easement through the courts. State law allows towns to forcibly acquire or use property for public projects, including sewer pipelines.
After his experience with the town, Mims said, he wants to make sure the town isn’t “running roughshod” over residents along the pipeline route.
“I have felt like if the landowners are getting low-balled by 25 percent on their easements, then that’s not right,” Mims said.
Through a public records request, Mims has asked the town for all documents related to the Clayton-to-Raleigh pipeline. He said he’ll use the next 30 days to review the documents and also contact three or four residents who called him.
Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs said the amounts the town offers for easements are based on professional appraisals. He said he doesn’t know what kind of message Mims is trying to send, but the town is focused on business and “trying to move the ball forward.”
“The agreement is important to our long-term economic development,” Biggs said. “Sewer service is what drives all of this.”
“When we talk about economic development, the most important thing we can bring is stability and cooperation,” Biggs said. “When businesses see anything other than stability and cooperation, it influences their business decisions.”
Clayton has been planning the pipeline to Raleigh for nearly a decade but put the project on hold during the recession.
Since 2012, the town has spent $170,000 to get easements from about 40 landowners who live along the route. The town had to take four easements through the courts after negotiations with residents failed.
Biggs said the town is finalizing engineering for the project and freshening up permits that are applicable. The town plans to seek bids for construction in the fall, he said.
The amended agreement with Raleigh would extend by 10 the number of years Clayton could send sewage to the Neuse River plant. The amended agreement would also acknowledge Raleigh’s modified fee structure, among other changes.
Clayton has paid Raleigh about $3.6 million already for the 1 million gallons of treatment capacity it plans to use at the city’s sewage plant. The pipeline is estimated to cost about $4 million.
Crews will reconfigure an existing pump station so that it can send sewage to either the town's treatment plant or to Raleigh's.
The five-mile, 16-inch sewer line will follow much the same route as a Duke Energy power line easement. The town made a deal with the power company in 2008 to use its easement.
The town’s current sewage-treatment capacity is about 3.4 million gallons per day – 2.5 million gallons at its Little Creek plant and about 900,000 gallons the Clayton buys from Johnston County. The deal with Raleigh increases Clayton’s capacity by 1 million gallons per day, with an option to purchase about 250,000 more gallons daily.
With some flow going to Raleigh, Clayton says it could focus on making improvements at its Little Creek treatment plant. A town-commissioned study from 2013 found more than $4.3 million in needed upgrades now and in the future. The most pressing of the improvements would help the town remove excess nutrients from its wastewater.
Once the line is finished, flow from Riverwood Athletic Club will start going to Raleigh’s plant. Flow from other large, planned subdivisions on the north side of Clayton would also go to the Raleigh plant. One of those subdivisions could be Steeplechase, Wakefield Development’s planned 2,200-home subdivision, which would produce an average sewage flow of about 600,000 gallons daily, according to the company’s master plan.
Mims, who lives on City Road on the north side of Clayton, has opposed Steeplechase and other proposed subdivisions near his home. In March, he sent a letter to the Town Council that documented his concerns.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104