INDIAN TRAIL – It seems the theme of 2022 in many ways has been recovery. For town leaders, that's meant mending important relationships.
Nothing's official yet, but since December, staff from Union County, Indian Trail, Stallings, Waxhaw and other municipalities have been meeting to pursue a new 30-year interlocal agreement on water and wastewater solutions.
“Essentially what the agreement says is we recognize Union County will be the water and sewer provider,” said Town Manager Michael McLaurin in an update to council July 13.
McLaurin added any party can “get out” with a two-year notice and explained how wording in the latest version of the agreement could protect the town and allow for safer investment in Indian Trail's future.
“If there is a need that the municipality has within the county's CIP [capital improvement plan], they will cover that. In the event that it is not, the initial agreement was that we would cover it. We've gone back and we've negotiated that if we do cover something like that, then we should be reimbursed over time.”
Although housing developments and apartment complexes probably wouldn't count as “need,” McLaurin mentioned how important it is to bring industries to the town that create jobs.
“Indian Trail is a major job creator inside our town limits,” he told council.
County commissioner David Williams attended.
“We're working together to negotiate to gain agreement on something that we feel will benefit all parties,” Williams said. “Personally, I haven't been real comfortable referring to this as an 'agreement.' It's a little more like a memorandum of understanding. What are some basic operating principles we can all embrace? I'm positive. I'm optimistic.”
Most details are still up in the air, but some discussions have pertained to package treatment plants along Catawba River, as well as chopping up subdistricts within Union.
“I think it's imperative that we work with the county and that nobody feels like they're being undermined,” Indian Trail Mayor Michael Alvarez said. “They understand that we know we're all in this together and we're all residents of the same county. We want to move forward with a workable agreement that's not only beneficial to Indian Trail but to each and every municipality in Union County.”
Alvarez has longed for cooperation. That showed last month during the public hearing for a recently denied townhome rezoning application.
“We need to pay attention," Alvarez said June 22, “to what's going on in our neighboring towns and how we affect each other – something that's not gone on in Union County in forever. If anybody tells me that this county's worked together with its towns, they're lying or dreaming.”
In fact that rezoning case, CZ 2019-0087, was for a proposed 170-townhome development. Because of the area's water/sewer infrastructure, it saw a lot of backlash from neighbors about run-off and water pressure issues.
Nothing is official yet about the interlocal agreement, but McLaurin said it will need to be modified as circumstances change, calling this “the first step of a long-term relationship.”