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Grease trap fees may end
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Flowery Branch is looking at reversing a practice of charging all businesses operating on city sewer $180 per year to cover the costs of inspecting and testing grease traps.

City Council is set to vote Thursday on whether the city should now just impose the fee on sewer customers that operate a grease trap.

The city first approved the fee last year as part of a set of laws governing sewer use in the city.

"At the time, this (requirement) was believed to be correct since all business sewer customers have the potential for sending nonhousehold waste to the plant and would require some level of inspection in order to verify compliance," City Manager Bill Andrew says in a document prepared for City Council.

"However, further investigation of this issue has led staff to recommend only those sewer customers who actually have a (fats, oil and grease) system be charged the fee."

Last year's vote stirred some backlash among businesses.

"They say any business could put (chemicals) into the sewer lines. Well, so can a resident. A resident can paint; a resident can cook more than a retail shop," said Janet Upchurch, owner of Sample Pleasures, a Main Street antique shop, in an earlier interview.
In a letter last year to the city, Martin Marsell, owner of the Papa John's pizza restaurant at 4605 Elk Ridge Court, expressed concerns "in light of the current business climate."

Marsell added that he already pays $300 every four months to have the restaurant's grease trap cleaned.

"We believe the amendment to charge local businesses (additionally) for fats, oils and greases is unfair in light of the steps we have taken to prevent (them) from entering the sewer system," he wrote.

The city has 219 businesses on sewer and 44 of them have grease traps. Visual inspection and lab testing will take place no more than quarterly for the 44 customers, with each lab test costing $165.

"However, with the use of visual inspections, it is believed testing numbers may be reduced," Andrew said.

The city expects to take in about $7,500 in grease trap fees.

"Our costs may be a little bit higher than that amount," Andrew said.

In other business, the council is looking at amending its alcoholic beverages law to allow for open containers at city-sanctioned events.

Open-air concerts are taking place this summer at the train depot downtown and at Sterling on the Lake subdivision off Spout Springs Road.

"The thing with Sterling is that, obviously that's private property, but because they're inviting the public ... it becomes in a sense a public event," Andrew said.

"Therefore, (their) having bottles of wine open and all that was problematic with our open containers law."

Regional events