On Monday, CFPUA stopped the clearing of an easement it owns within the RiverLights subdivision after receiving a stop-work order from the City. This work was part of the initial phase of a project to install a new 16-inch water main to serve residential and commercial customers in the southern part of New Hanover County, including portions of RiverLights. The area involves a 30-foot wide, 4,000 feet-long water main easement that runs through an undeveloped tract of land within RiverLights. Only a portion of the easement (about 800 feet) has been cleared so far and all work has been stopped.
Our standard procedure for many years has been that the construction contractor is required to obtain the tree removal permit as part of the work to prepare the easement for water or sewer main construction. Unfortunately, in this case, the tree removal permit was not obtained by the contractor. This also implied that City staff was not aware of the tree removal activity until they received calls from nearby residents.
CFPUA is working with the City to address specific concerns arising from the necessary tree removal in this water main easement, and how we can enhance intergovernmental communication about similar projects moving forward.
In addition, we will look at options, based on input from the City and local property owners near the River Road easement, to provide a vegetative buffer in the area where trees were removed, while still minimizing risk of damage to the water main and allowing access for long-term maintenance.
Finally, CFPUA will develop a policy change to take on the task of obtaining the necessary permits for tree removal required for new construction. Also, we are reviewing all current CFPUA projects that require tree removal have obtained the necessary permit for this.