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Hall may help Gainesville pay for sewer

POSTED: April 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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Hall County government may consider assisting the city of Gainesville in funding the $11.5 million sewer project along Ga. 129, Hall County Administrator Jim Shuler said Monday.

Gainesville Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall updated the Hall County Board of Commissioners Monday on the progress of the city’s Athens Highway sewer project that is divided into three phases, virtually all of which are located within Hall County.

The first phase, which Randall said is costing the city about $4.5 million, will provide sewer service along Ga. 129 from Monroe Drive to the Lenox Park subdivision. Shuler said the first phase will take roughly one year to complete.

Currently, construction on the second phase will not begin until 2013, and will extend sewer lines adjacent to Ga. 129 from Monroe Drive to Gaines Mill Road. The third phase will construct sewer lines from Gaines Mill Road South to Gillsville Highway.

Randall said the project is divided into three phases to allow the city time to locate funding for the sewer line construction as builders gain interest in developing in the area.

"It’s a pretty large project. The reason we break it up into phases one, two and three ... is because we don’t know if development is going to happen tomorrow or in 10 years," Randall said. "Phase one is started, but we need cash to get on with phase two and phase three. It’s an issue that keeps coming up over and over. This will allow us the ability to respond to developmental needs as they arise."

Shuler said having sewer access available along Ga. 129 will promote new development in the area, and may attract commercial retail or shopping centers to the highway. He added that Hall County government may consider funding small portions of phase two or phase three of the sewer project.

Randall said the city of Gainesville needs more funding, ideally from Hall County government, in order to begin the second and third phases of the Athens Highway sewer project. Randall said that, due to the current drought, state-mandated water use restrictions have diminished Gainesville public utility revenues from $57 million in 2007 to an estimated $47 million in 2008.

"(The water restrictions are) really having a hurting on our whole process of construction," Randall said.

Randall added that if the county takes an interest in funding the sewer project, the second phase of the project could begin before 2013.

"This is kind of our first time to look at (funding) it," said Tom Oliver, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners. "At this time, we’re undecided ... at what we’re willing to do. Some of the South Hall (sewer) projects, we’ve got people waiting in line for those projects now. And I don’t know of anybody who is waiting for a project on (Ga.) 129 at this time."

Randall said building sewer lines along Ga. 365 is the next sewer construction project for the city of Gainesville. Oliver added that some residents and builders have already voiced a desire for sewer service near Ga. 365.



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