09/19/13 — Board meets with town

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Board meets with town

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on September 19, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners met with the Pikeville Town Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to discuss the town's state of affairs and to get to know one another.

Wayne County Commission Chairman Steve Keen said the series of meetings being held with municipalities across the county are a chance to get to know the town boards and to let them voice their concerns.

The meeting, held at the Lane Tree Golf Club, focused on three major problems facing Pikeville, expensive law enforcement, sewer rainwater infiltration causing high wastewater treatment costs and the looming cost of any improvements to infrastructure along the I-795 corridor.

In addition to opening a line of communication, commissioners hope to glean information that can be used to create a comprehensive land use plan for Wayne County.

"It's no use without getting the municipalities in the county involved. We want to see what your needs are," Keen said.

Pikeville Mayor Johnny Weaver said the town is doing well.

"We are very conservative financially, so we're in good shape. But in order to stay in shape you have to be stingy," Weaver said. "That being said, if you don't take care of the little things, you won't take care of the big things."

Weaver talked about the difficulties facing the town in running water and sewer over I-795, and that without increased revenue, it was unlikely to happen.

He said he read about the last couple meetings commissioners held with other towns and that the topic of a county-wide police department force had come up. He said he believed the perception was that Pikeville was opposed to a countywide police force.

"We have not officially said no. All small towns have to take a look at that," Weaver said. "Almost 100 percent of our property tax goes to police protection and that's something to look at. We're just as much in Wayne County as Lane Tree is. Cover us as you do them."

Pikeville has three full-time officers as well as part-time officers on staff.

While Pikeville has its own sewer treatment facility, unlike Fremont and Eureka, it is plagued by the same issue of rainwater leaking into the system, causing the town to spend money treating rainwater.

Pikeville is working toward getting its planning board back up and running, and Weaver said the area northwest of the town is developing quickly.

"Change is inevitable, and if you aren't prepared for change, you will become a victim of it," Town Administrator Blake Proctor said.

Another problem mentioned was the lack of a dedicated highway turn lane coming from Goldsboro through Pikeville, causing traffic problems. A second lane exists in each direction north of Pikeville's stoplight on Main Street.

County Manager Lee Smith said Pikeville could use money from the Metropolitan Planning Organization to fund a study to present to the state Department of Transportation to add a lane to the intersection.

The commissioners urged Pikeville officials to think about themselves, Fremont and Eureka as a "mini Triangle" and to consider regionally what would help all three of them grow.

Pikeville is in better shape than many of the smaller towns in Wayne County, but that leaves the town in a Catch-22 of sorts, Proctor said. The town is classified as a Tier One community for granting purposes due to the average income being within a couple thousand dollars of the state average, making grant money harder to come by.

With a population of 671 people in 2012 and an average age of 38, Pikeville is in a better position than many towns that are not retaining their young population, he said.

Weaver said after the meeting that he felt it was productive and that the two boards seem to have the same ideas and just needed to sit down and talk to find that out.