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Residents don’t want sewer line

Proposed project would affect lots not in Oakwood

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

Several residents of the Martin’s Crossing West subdivision near Flowery Branch plan to attend an Oakwood public meeting tonight to voice their disapproval of the sewer line Oakwood officials aim to lay through their neighborhood.

The Martin’s Crossing West neighborhood is not within the city limits of Oakwood, but it is in unincorporated Hall County. And Oakwood officials have plans to run a sewer line from the pump station located on Martin Road, which is in unincorporated Hall County, through the Martin’s Crossing West subdivision to a roughly 120-acre development site located at the intersection of Martin Road and Falcon Parkway, which was annexed into Oakwood on July 16.

"Basically what we’re trying to do is provide sewer service to property in the City of Oakwood, and it just so happens that there’s unincorporated property in between where the pump station is and where the city property is," said Stan Brown, Oakwood city manager.

But several residents of Martin’s Crossing West said they absolutely do not want a sewer line running through their neighborhood, much less through their property.

And according to the latest tentatively finalized plan, the Oakwood sewer line will affect dozens of Martin’s Crossing West residents’ private properties or properties adjacent to their homes.

"Ultimately, we don’t want them to come through our subdivision," said Damon Santimauro, a Martin’s Crossing West resident.

Santimauro, who lives on Holland View Drive, said that most of the residents of Martin’s Crossing West are on septic tanks, and would not benefit from the proximity of a sewer line.

Brown said that after the design of the sewer line is complete, Oakwood officials will begin to negotiate easement agreements with property owners so the city may construct the line through private property with the owners’ permission to build.

"The sewer line doesn’t do anything good for us," he said. "The main attitude for me is that we bought into this neighborhood for one reason and one reason only — it is very spacious. It’s got a lot of green area. Our lot in particular has a ‘green zone,’ where we have a wooded area between us and our neighbor ... so we don’t feel like we’re surrounded by homes."

Santimauro said the pathway for the sewer line runs through his property and will require cutting down hundreds of trees on his property.

"They said they would restore it to exactly how it looked. ... But how are you going to replant 50-year-old trees?" Santimauro said.

Oakwood officials have held two informational neighborhood meetings at Oakwood City Hall to hear the concerns of Martin’s Crossing residents. Brown said the first was held on Sept. 6, and another took place on Oct. 30. He said the meetings were well-attended.

At the Oct. 30 meeting, Santimauro said that he was surprised to discover that the survey company, Rochester and Associates Inc., did not have a map that was up-to-date enough to include the home in which he had lived for three years. As a result, Santimauro said the proposed sewer line appeared to run through his property, and depending on measurements, could have been slated to run through his house.

"So they hadn’t done much research, which obviously made me a little upset," Santimauro said.

He added that he discussed the proposed plan that directly affected his property with members of the Rochester company after the Oct. 30 meeting. Santimauro said he gave them several ways to contact him so that the map could be appropriately and accurately updated. But several weeks later, he said the company has still not contacted him.

But the sewer line is not the only issue that will be raised at the 6 p.m. meeting at Oakwood City Hall. Martin’s Crossing West residents and residents of surrounding neighborhoods said they will express disapproval of the mixed-use development located at the intersection of Martin Road and Falcon Parkway.

The July annexation of the approximate 120-acre property into Oakwood spurred a lawsuit by Hall County government against the City of Oakwood and the site’s developer, Martin Road Investments. Hall County government filed the suit in September on the basis that the Oakwood annexation of the four tracts created an island, which is prohibited by law.

Tonight, Oakwood officials will vote on a rezoning proposal to reduce the roughly 90-acre residential portion of the Martin Road development from 10 units per acre to eight units per acre. Issues regarding the 10-foot tract annexation that defines the Martin Road development as an island may also be discussed.

In late October, three of the five Hall County commissioners voted in favor of dropping the lawsuit. Commissioner Bobby Banks, who represents District One that encompasses the controversial annexation, said that he did not vote to drop the suit, in part because it would allow Martin Road Investments to be able to build 468 starter town homes in his district.

Many residents in the area said they fear developers have plans to build residences that will attract lower-income residents to the area, bringing with them children who will further overcrowd nearby Martin Road Elementary.

But Brown said that Oakwood officials are willing to hear the input from local residents at many public meetings over the next couple of months. No sewer or development plans will take place without first going through the public hearing process, he added.

"You’re never going to have a project that pleases everyone," Brown said. "But I assure you that at the end of the day, we’ll have a project everyone can live with."



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