Developers Sue City Over Water Rules

Should Towns Provide Service Without Stipulations?

Two developers are suing the city of Concord, N.C., for forcing them to follow the city's tight subdivision rules in exchange for water, even though the development will not be within the city limits.

Concord has been using its control over water service to require developers building subdivisions outside its borders to adhere to standards that are closer to city requirements.

For example, the city's Unified Development Ordinance requires more sidewalks, curbing and landscaping in new subdivisions than the county zoning ordinance does.

According to the two lawsuits filed in late September, the city also is requiring the developers to agree to be annexed into Concord in order to get water and sewer service. The Concord City Council met with the city attorney Tuesday in closed session about the lawsuits.

"We contend that the city has a duty to provide water and sewer to people who are located on their lines," said Jim Scarbrough, the attorney for both developers.

In a Sept. 17 letter to the city, Cabarrus County also questioned the legality of the city enforcement.

The city released a statement in which it said that it must serve as "an ardent steward" of its water.

"The litigation filed appears to say the city must provide services outside of the city limits whenever and to whoever," the statement reads. "It is our belief that growth regardless of inside or outside the city must be planned."

City Manager Brian Hiatt declined to comment.

The first lawsuit, filed by Craft Development of Monroe, names the city of Concord and its mayor and council. A second lawsuit, filed by J. Robert and Mary Morrison of Georgia, also names Cabarrus County, although it seeks damages only from the city.

Charlotte Observer

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