With the clock ticking to provide sewer service to Gateway Industrial Centre, a planned development that will include the new Georgia Poultry Laboratory, the Hall County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday night to move ahead with its plan to build a wastewater treatment plant in North Hall.
The county agreed to provide sewer service to the 518-acre industrial park within 36 months after Georgia Poultry closed on its property there in October. It’s expected to cost $3.2 million for the county to build a 3,500-foot gravity sewer and 75,000-gallons-per-day treatment plant. The county is also waiting for a final permit from the state Environmental Protection Division for the facility, which is expected by March 2013, said Ken Rearden, county director of public works and utilities. He said the county has already spent $393,500 toward its own system.
Rearden said it will take about eight months to design the project and a year to construct, with the ability to operate by January 2015.
The commission approved the proposal by a 4-to-1 vote, with Commissioner Billy Powell opposed.
“I don’t think we need another capital project that we then have to operate and maintain for years to come,” Powell said.
The county bought its South Hall wastewater treatment plant in 2008 for $14.5 million, but it’s been unprofitable and the county is struggling to make principal payments on its debt. Officials have proposed dipping into SPLOST revenue. Commissioner Craig Lutz said new revenue expected from the industrial park gives the county the freedom to build its own system.
“We already have a sewer plant in South Hall. So putting in the new sewer plant — while there is an infrastructure cost upfront — we spread out the operational cost between the two and it actually makes it cheaper to run both of them,” he said. “We also add an additional stream of revenue and having this new revenue stream coming in, I think is going to help both the residents of South Hall County that are on the sewer system, we talked about the rates tonight, because all that’s coming in right now is commercial. Commercial has no caps, they pay quite a bit. So, I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
The commissioners also agreed to send EPD a letter clarifying that the county’s zoning regulations on the landfill on Old County Dump Road don’t allow food composting. Commissioner Ashley Bell said he was not made aware of two letters sent by outgoing Chairman Tom Oliver that said the landfill’s zoning allowed composting and that the proposed composting operation was consistent with the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan. Landowner Kenneth Cronan received a permit to compost and then successfully applied for a slight modification to the permit to compost food waste. Residents said they can still smell the odor.
“This is my district and I never saw this letter. This affects people who live in my district,” Bell said. “I don’t want composting or food waste. It’s that simple.”
The commissioners also approved a resolution authorizing administrative and judicial action opposing the city of Gainesville’s plan to annex 115 “island” properties.