The Hall County Board of Commissioners decided to go back to the drawing board on two important issues Thursday after taking heat from residents at both ends of the county at its packed board meeting.
Clermont residents came to protest the county’s proposal to move the North Hall library from Clermont to the same Nopone Road site as the future North Hall park and community center.
County officials said building the library and the park at the same site would save costs and provide a more centralized location.
A public hearing followed with many Clermont residents and officials speaking in opposition to the project on the basis that the town has been told for years that funding would be available to build a new library in Clermont to replace the current branch.
“To the town of Clermont, this basically is an issue of integrity,” said Clermont’s attorney, David Syfan.
After hearing from the people of Clermont, the commission agreed to postpone their decision.
Commissioner Bobby Banks made a motion to table it for two weeks to allow the county to collect more information and work with the town of Clermont before finalizing the location of the library.
The motion was approved unanimously.
South Hall residents showed up en masse to put pressure on the commission to find a solution to the high sewer rates paid by the residents in the Reunion, Sterling on the Lake and Village at Deaton Creek subdivisions.
Currently, sewer customers pay a flat rate of $42, inherited by the county when it bought the plant from developer John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods.
The county has been battling for more than a year to find a way to lower the rates of the small user base while maintaining enough revenue to pay for the system.
Public Works Director Ken Rearden presented the commission with the results of a consultant’s study into the rate structure.
He recommended a structure that would pay for 34 percent of the system’s operating cost come from a base rate of $13.96 per customer and 66 percent of the cost from customer usage charges of $4.66 per hundred cubic feet.
The rate would reduce the sewer bills of average users but would make the costs for higher volume users go up.
Village at Deaton Creek resident Phyllis Mercer, who has been a vocal opponent of the sewer rates, said there was still much to be done.
“This represents some progress towards a much more equitable sewer structure,” Mercer said.
Banks, who represents South Hall, made the motion to reject the proposed sewer fee structure and go back to the drawing board. The commission voted unanimously to do so.
The commission also approved the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau’s request for a special event permit, including alcohol sales, for the American Bass Anglers Bassmaster Weekend Series March 13 at Laurel Park.
CVB President Stacey Dickson said the alcohol, provided by sponsors of the event, would be limited to a gated, tented area.
“This is a controlled environment,” Dickson said. “Absolutely no alcohol would be permitted outside that area.”
The county would only issue permits to allow alcohol in parks on a case-by-case basis for special events that have been pre-approved to meet certain criteria, including proper security and sanitation, said Business License Director Susan Rector.
A number of people spoke against the idea of making an exception to allow alcohol in public parks, which is forbidden according to county code.
Commissioner Ashley Bell amended the request to allow alcohol only for professional events such as fishing tournaments.
The commission approved the permit in a split vote: Billy Powell, Bell and chairman Tom Oliver approved it. Steve Gailey and Banks voted against it.