Big Cove residents want answers about Huntsville Utilities water tank project

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - On Runell Drive in Big Cove Estates, you'll find a tight community with neighbors who really love where they live.

Some say it's the serenity a mountain can provide. Others say it's the perfect distance away from downtown to make them feel secluded. Many of the residents have been there for more than 20 years.

But they're worried about something that they fear will disrupt their peaceful properties: a Huntsville Utilities plan to put a water tank (think golf ball on a tee style) at the end of the road.

"The more I've looked into it, the more upset I get," said resident Wesley Norris.

Norris and his neighbors told WHNT News 19 they're upset that Huntsville Utilities never told them about the project, or asked for public input. Joe Gehrdes, Huntsville Utilities Director of Communications, said the company was not required to.

"The reason nobody heard about it is because it's being built-in the county, the unincorporated county," he said. "There's less regulation there, there's no approval process for the placement of a thing like this anywhere in Madison County. There's no zoning regulations and in this case, no other building regulations that would require such notice."

Residents say their homes are in Huntsville though. This tank is planned right on the edge of the city limits. We asked Gehrdes why Huntsville Utilities didn't just go and issue the notice anyway.

"It's a good question. I can't answer that," he commented, "but the neighborhood is engaged with us now. We are talking with them about perhaps not changing the site, but maybe pushing the tank to the northern edge of the property. We need to see research about whether that's possible."

The group of neighbors is looking forward to a possible meeting with the company. They want answers.

"We'll try and find out exactly what process did they go through in picking this location?" said Norris.

Gerhdes assures us there's lots of work that goes into it.

"We don't place those tanks without a lot of study," he said. "It has to do with the availability of property and the hydrology of the area."

He added that the tank is part of a greater plan to improve service to Big Cove communities, because existing infrastructure is aging and the communities are growing. He believes it can even assist fire departments with adequate water pressure to fight fires in those areas.