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New Hoschton council members get up to speed
Treatment plant upgrades focus of informal meeting
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HOSCHTON — Incoming Hoschton City Council members got a taste of what it’s like to sit around the meeting room table in city hall Monday.

The council- and mayor-elect met for an informal session to ask city engineer John Washington questions regarding slated wastewater treatment plant upgrades and other possible future improvements to the city’s water system.

Jim Higginbottom, Jim Cleveland, Scott Butler, Sandie Romer and Erma Denney all attended the meeting. While Butler was sworn in last month to fill former councilman Tom Walden’s empty seat, the other four will be sworn in next week during Monday’s council meeting.

Earlier this year, the current city council approved allocating about $300,000 from a lawsuit Hoschton settled with its former wastewater treatment plant engineer, Armentrout, Roebuck & Matheny Consulting Group, to fix the phase separator at the plant.

Washington is in the process of writing up a report on the current wastewater treatment equipment and how the new changes will impact the system. This, he said, will be sent to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for review and approval.

“I’m in the process of doing the work we have to do, which is called a hydraulic profile. Essentially what that is is to show ... that the plant will operate properly with the water flowing in, going through the pieces of equipment, all the way until it’s discharged out of the plant,” he explained.

Washington is working for Siemens Water Technologies on the report, which he hopes to send to the EPD by mid-December. Once Hoschton receives a response from the EPD, which Washington expects to happen in mid-January, Siemens can prepare the equipment and start construction. Washington said he hopes the wastewater updates will be completed by June 1, 2010.

Washington also said a decision has not been made in a lawsuit between Hoschton and Braselton concerning a 126-acre unincorporated parcel of land in West Jackson.

The suit originally began when Hoschton annexed the parcel, located on Maddox Road and Ga. 124, with plans to extend water and sewer services there. Braselton challenged the annexation, arguing the parcel would fall under its jurisdiction for water and sewer services under Jackson County’s service delivery strategy.

A service delivery strategy is a document listing which local governments provide which services in the county and where funding comes from for each service. This is done to ensure that no unnecessary duplication of services occur.

In July, Jackson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Booth ruled that Hoschton’s annexation of the parcel, which would be an unincorporated parcel within the city limits, was null and void, and that the parcel falls under Braselton’s jurisdiction in the county’s service delivery plan.

Hoschton officially filed an appeal on the judge’s decision in August. However, until the courts make a decision in the matter, Hoschton cannot extend water and sewer services to that area, Washington said.

“We’re still in limbo because basically EPD said as long as there’s pending litigation, they couldn’t approve a permit,” he said.

Times regional staff writer Katie Dunn contributed to this report.

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