I find it interesting and distressing that the Greensboro City Council voted to take money from the so-called transportation bonds passed several years ago to move water pipes for the Jones Brothers development on Smith Street. (Never mind the fact that I voted against the transportation bond issue in 2000. I read the proposed use of that money and disagreed with much of it.)
I was at the meeting where this expenditure was approved. The agenda reference was for $750,000, but I think that the actual amount voted to be given was $200,000.
Let me tell you about my own experience with relocating city water pipes.
-Two real estate investors bought an old building at the corner of South Elm and McGee streets, near Hamburger Square.
-Two fires on the same night did some damage to the interior of the old building brick building.
-Fires were ruled to be arson. Limited investigation has not (to my knowledge) turned up responsible arsonist.
-New owners did a wonderful job of renovating building, turning it into a bar and restaurant and mini brewery with outside dining and drinking.
-Owners discovered, during renovations, that water supply to two nearby buildings runs through their property. No legal easements were found.
-City water meters are located on McGee Street and water pipes run from these meters into two buildings that face South Elm.
-New owners notify owners of nearby buildings that the water pipes must be moved.
-Nearby business owners contact Greensboro City Water Department about problem, and are referred to City Engineering Department.
-City engineering department can't find maps identifying pipes, and refer business owners back to water department.
-Water pipes are cut and temporarily re-connected with hoses from meters.
-Small business owners speak to Greensboro Legal Department and are told that it is a private property matter.
-Owners ask water department to run pipes from city water meters to their property lines and are told that there will be a charge to do this. Owners inquire about price and are told that it depends on what is involved.
-Message left on phone by city staff tells owners that the city will not move water, even if owners pay.
-Complaint to Mayor of Greensboro gets reply that the new business will be good for the area and will help all businesses downtown.
-Results: Two small business owners paid over $8,000 to have water pipes moved.
-Questions: How are small business and property owners treated by the City of Greensboro? Does the city play favorites?