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Hall residents fear county's plan to increase sewer rates
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Residents from the Village at Deaton Creek packed the Georgia Mountains Center to voice their concerns about proposed sewer rate increases at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden presented the first reading of a new sewer ordinance, which includes the fee structure for the South Hall sewer system.

Phyllis Mercer spoke in opposition of the possible sewer rate increases as a representative of the Village at Deaton Creek.

Mercer cited examples of how Hall County’s rates could be higher than many surrounding municipalities, including Gainesville.

"We ask that you revisit this proposal," said Mercer to a round of applause. "The bottom line is Hall County’s fee would be twice to three times the fee charged by other surrounding governmental entities."

Flowery Branch City Councilman Craig Lutz, a resident of Sterling on the Lake, also spoke in opposition.

"These sewer rates being as high as they are, it’s really going to put people in a crunch," Lutz said.

Rearden said Thursday was the first reading and there will be time for the county commissioners to discuss and adjust if they think it is necessary.

"We do acknowledge our rates are higher right now," Rearden said.

The board of commissioners also approved the Cane Creek development, a large mixed-use, master planned community that will be built over the next 12 to 15 years near Lula.

"I’m excited to see Lula grow," said Lula Councilman Mordecai Wilson, who attended the meeting. "People seem to be in favor of progress. I am proud to be a part of this."

The meeting was also the last for Commissioner Deborah Mack, who has held the District 4 seat for the last six years. Fellow Democrat Ashley Bell defeated Mack in her re-election bid.

Many spoke on her behalf, and the county presented her with a watch to thank her for her service.

Mack filled the vacancy on the board of commissioners upon the death of beloved Commissioner Frances Meadows.

In honor of Meadows, Mack unveiled a statue in her likeness that may be placed at the new Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center.

"I’d like to thank God, because we never know what door He has opened for us; we just have to be available. And as I always say, when He closes one door He has another one open," Mack said.