The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 15, 2013

Ansted, Fayette County Commission teaming up to consider sewer system upgrade outside town

ANSTED — When it comes to providing sewer services, Ansted’s mayor says that thinking outside of the boundaries of town limits could be good for everyone.

Mayor Pete Hobbs proposed Friday that the county join in efforts to initiate a study to consider whether areas outside of corporate limits should be included in a sewer system upgrade.

The Fayette County Commission dedicated up to $10,000 for the study, with the understanding that Hobbs will also seek funds from Ansted Town Council and private partners.

Hobbs estimates that 300 to 500 people in areas adjacent to town are in need of sewer services. The Town of Ansted, in turn, needs a larger base of customers for its sewer system to survive into the future.

“We have to lose these boundaries for our small communities to survive,” he told the commission. “I seldom refer to Ansted anymore, but I refer to an area of influence in northern Fayette County.”

As part of a strategic planning process, the town is looking at the future of its sewer services. The town has been working for years on “inflow and infiltration” issues, which cause pollution in adjacent creeks that flow into the New River, which is Fayette County’s major drinking water source.

Hobbs says some progress has been made in this area, but that it appears the efforts are “getting close to the point of diminishing returns.”

“It became apparent that it was ill-conceived for us not to consider embracing those areas outside of the corporate limits for sanitary sewer service, so we began to talk about how to do that,” he said.

The purpose of the proposed study is to find out whether such a strategy makes sense, gather fundamental data to support a more comprehensive engineering study and get a ballpark figure of cost.

The cost study, if it develops as planned, will include three areas outside of city limits.

South of town, it will incorporate the Ames Heights, Russell Hill and Chestnutburg Road area. To the east, it will look at the Shade Creek area down to Hopewell Road. And to the west, it will hook in the Turkey Creek Road area.

Hobbs says there’s a possibility that the project could lay infrastructure for reaching out Saturday and Sunday roads at some future time.

Northern Fayette County’s economic health depends on robust water and sewer infrastructure, maintains the mayor.

“I truly believe that northern Fayette County is a great source for the economic future of Fayette County,” he says. “We can become a major contributor to the economic picture here.”

Hobbs says that the town of Ansted has seen $3 million in investment in the past three years. This includes a new Dollar General store, a five-unit apartment project, six new single-family homes, and an addition to Ansted Baptist Church.

“There’s a lot going on already, and we need to prepare for that future growth,” says Hobbs. “We need to have the infrastructure in place to support economic development.”

Fayette County Commission president Matthew Wender said that the county’s process of magisterial redistricting, which is based on population, reveals that the New Haven district continues to be the area of growth for the county.

He also believes that certain “private entities,” presumably rafting and tourism-related businesses in the Ames Heights area, should benefit from such a sewer project, should it occur.

“It would be great if this could be a public-private venture,” he said.

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