FOUNTAIN — A new internet option is planned for the town of Fountain following an agreement between the town and Eastern Carolina Broadband of Pink Hill.
Two years ago, Eastern Carolina Broadband’s managing partners Al Rachide and Susan Myers met with Fountain commissioners to discuss the possibility of establishing fiber-based internet service in the town.
Issues with line-of-sight connectivity had to be solved before moving forward, but the duo returned to Fountain for the Sept. 8 Board of Commissioners meeting with a plan to meet the town’s needs.
“A special project came out of this. We’re determined to get internet to you,” Myers said, adding the company worked with N.C. Broadband Infrastructure to provide services.
Eastern Carolina will need to install equipment on the town’s water tower in order to establish line-of-sight connectivity. The equipment installation would comply with OSHA regulations and allow for a clean walkway, Myers said.
In exchange for leasing the water tower, the town would receive free internet at one location, Myers said.
Homes hooked into Eastern Carolina’s broadband service would require a small device to receive the signal.
A small, temporary building will need to be constructed at Eastern Carolina Broadband’s expense. The building would house needed equipment for service and would require air conditioning.
Eastern Carolina Broadband requested the town cover the cost of electricity used from the air conditioning unit.
“If you see the electric bill is running high, we will compensate for the increased changes,” Rachide said, adding the bill is usually nominal.
Connectivity to the town would be received from Farmville’s water tower, Myers said, adding Farmville has agreed to allow use of the tower.
Commissioner Steven Williams made a motion to accept the agreement to lease the water tower. It was seconded by Commissioner Glen Vines. It passed with all in favor.
A new business will occupy a former ABC store, following a decision to grant a conditional-use permit to David Conway, who wants to establish an auto sales lot.
The lot, currently owned by Grifton Rescue Squad Inc., will be rented to Conway.
The site will serve primarily as an office with a few cars for sale, Conway said.
“The main thing is we need the building to get a license. Our biggest thing is getting the dealer license,” Conway said.
In order to obtain a dealer license, Conway is required to have a permanent address along with a handicapped-accessible facility.
Conway plans to have cars and equipment like dump trucks available for purchase on site, but promised the lot would not obtain junk cars.
“It will be clean,” Conway said.
Grifton Commissioner Claude Kennedy made a motion to approve the conditional-use permit. It was seconded by Commissioner Will Barnes.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think it will be a source of revenue for Mr. Conway and his business will generate revenue for the rescue,” said Grifton Mayor Billy Ray Jackson, adding it will mean additional sales tax revenue for the town.
Commissioners also approved a resolution with the state for a loan or grant to finance the cost of improving its drinking water distribution system.
“We have water systems with a lot of water lines 40 to 50 years old. In a lot of areas we don’t have valves,” Town Manager Mark Warren said.
“Basically we have to bring the whole system down when we make repairs.”
If funding for the project is approved, Grifton may be able to replace old galvanized lines and install valves, which would allow for the town’s water system to operate more efficiently.
The Walstonburg Board of Commissioners was urged to pursue funding from the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act (ASADRA) during its Sept. 1 board meeting.
Danny Meadows of Draper Aden Associates told the commissioners that due to COVID-19, only about half of the $125 million budgeted has been awarded.
ASADRA funding is available for municipalities affected by Hurricane Matthew and Florence, Meadows said.
If eligible for ASADRA funding, the town can receive principal forgiveness. If the town does not receive principal forgiveness, the loan will be available at no interest, Meadows said.
With the funding, the town can address sewer issues. Commissioners have discussed needed repairs on Church and West and East Railroad Streets.
Meadows estimates this will cost more than $100,000.
Commissioner voted unanimously to apply for ASADRA grant funding.
The Farmville planning board tabled a decision on a text amendment to add solar collector accessory use at its Sept. 8 meeting.
When reviewing the solar overlay ordinance, planning director Justin Oakes noted changes were needed to comply with state law, which requires municipalities to allow residential solar use.
The current ordinance made it difficult for residents to use solar power, Oakes said.
Oakes recommended adding requirements for residential solar operations while allowing for residents to have solar energy.
Planning board members tabled a decision on the update and requested more information before voting.
Oakes said board members asked him to see if there are regulations that can be added on the location as well as the buffering and screening of solar panels for residential accessory use.
Oakes will present the information to the planning board at its October meeting.