Local News

Waterfront Development Could Endanger Wilson City Water Supply

Posted March 13, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— From Kerr Lake to Falls Lake to the Tar River Reservoir in Nash County, waterfront property is in demand. The next hot spot is likely the land around the Buckhorn Reservoir in Wilson, Nash and Johnston Counties. The debate is not whether to build, but how to do it without damaging Wilson's water supply.

A section of lake in Wilson County is also the primary source for the City of Wilson's water supply. The city and the county are looking for public input to make sure the water quality here is not compromised by development.

The Buckhorn Reservoir in western Wilson County is one of the most attractive places around. The newly-built lake is quiet, and the location is perfect for real estate.

"It is close to Raleigh, 264 Highway, 64 Highway not too far from Interstate 95, so you have got a lot of major traffic arteries that go through there. So it's a pretty attractive area," says real estate appraiser Geral Bissette.

The trouble is the lake is also the primary water supply for the City of Wilson. City leaders are asking Wilson County to stop development here for 90 days so a committee can study how septic tanks and other housing necessities will affect the water.

"We're not asking necessarily that the development be changed. It may be that it is appropriate. We're just asking that it be studied, reviewed and a decision be made long-term since the county does control the land use around the reservoir," says Wilson Deputy City Manager Charles Pittman.

A few miles away in Nash County, homes along the Tar River Reservoir pump thousands into the tax base each year. Admittedly, the Buckhorn will never look like this. State laws are so strict that the Wilson reservoir will always be rural. Things like private boat docks are off limits.

Though the tax incentive is not as strong here, Wilson County does want to allow calculated development as soon as it can.

"Undesirable growth, it spoils your water sources. So it's very important around the reservoirs to make sure it's done in a balanced, intelligent, organized manner," says Wilson County Manager Ellis Williford.

Desirable growth is what city leaders are looking for. Wilson County commissioners held a public hearing Monday night. A task force of city and county leaders will decide what to do next.