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Hall to re-explore sewer options for industrial park
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Hall County Board of Commissioners sewer decisions

Hall County Commissioners have taken four votes on how to provide the Gateway Industrial Centre with sewer capacity.

November 2012: Commissioners approve building a county system*

February 2013: Commissioners approve partnering with Lula while building some county infrastructure

July 2013: Commissioners approve suspending talks with Lula and building a county system

September 2013: Commissioners approve looking at all options again

*Commission included Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Ashley Bell, who lost re-election in 2012. They were replaced with Chairman Richard Mecum and Commissioner Jeff Stowe in 2013.

Source: Times staff research

It’s been nearly a year since the Georgia Poultry Lab closed on its property at the Gateway Industrial Centre, and Hall County is still deliberating the best way to provide the sewer service it promised.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday night to re-explore all options to service the Gateway Industrial Centre and the Ga. 365 corridor. It was the fourth vote on the issue since November.

The county agreed to provide sewer service to the 518-acre industrial park under development within 36 months of when the first tenant, Georgia Poultry Lab, closed on its 10-acre site there. Hall has to provide 500,000 gallons per day of sewer capacity within 36 months of October 2012.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe made the motion Thursday that county staff pursue all sewer options for Ga. 365 available to the county and come back to the commission within two weeks. Commissioner Scott Gibbs was absent.

The county has considered partnering with Lula, with the city of Gainesville and building its own system to provide sewer capacity to the industrial park and the Ga. 365 corridor. The commission has voted four times in the past 10 months as the board consensus changed over time.

Talks between the county and the city of Lula broke down again this week after a tentative deal Tuesday seemingly fell apart the next day. Commissioners voted in February to partner with Lula, but then voted to suspend talks with the city in July, saying they could do it themselves cheaper.

“This is a decision we’ve made carefully and thoughtfully and we feel it’s a wise investment that will benefit Hall County citizens in the near and distant future,” Commissioner Billy Powell said after the vote in July.

The previous commission took the first vote on sewer options in November and approved building its own wastewater plant. The second vote happened in February after Stowe and Board Chairman Dick Mecum came on the board in January and the commission reconsidered the first vote. The second time, the commission approved using Lula’s wastewater treatment plant, but to install about 5 miles of pipeline from a county-built pump station up Ga. 365 to Ga. 52.

“Lula was the only option that met that timetable in getting sewer up there in 12 to 15 months,” Stowe said after the second vote. “Also in cost, they (were) the cheapest option compared to the county going on its own or us doing it ourselves to meet that timeline.”

Thursday’s vote, the fourth, may mean Gainesville is back in the running. Gainesville had proposed that it would enhance its pipeline from station 26 to White Sulphur Road and then build pipe infrastructure along the Ga. 365 corridor to a north pump station at the industrial center, The Times reported in January. Gainesville would finance the cost of the infrastructure and water capacity and would use debt service payments to pay off the project’s expense. If the county opted out in the next 10 years, it would have to repay the pro rata share of the costs the city incurred.

Mecum and Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix both said they have not had any discussions with Gainesville officials about sewer options. County Administrator Randy Knighton declined comment.

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