Flowery Branch is counting on a section of railroad right of way to remain open so the city can reach a planned pump station that’s part of a sewer line extension project.
City officials discovered the issue when they began looking at the site of the pump station off Bell Drive, a dirt Hall County road with a portion of it on Norfolk Southern Corp. property.
City Planner James Riker raised the matter with City Council, saying the city could take its chances with Bell Drive remaining open or it could build an access road off the right of way. The access road, because of land grade and other issues, would be “very, very expensive,” Riker aid.
“We’re of the mindset that it is very unlikely that the railroad would desire to close (the Bell Drive portion),” Riker said.
“It’s been there for quite some time. Having our truck drive on it once a day is probably not going to raise an alert to the railroad.”
City Attorney Ron Bennett echoed that sentiment.
“There’s no sense in building a road when one exists,” he said. “And I don’t think the railroad is going to come out and build a fence across Bell Drive any time soon.”
People occasionally drive on the road, Riker said.
“As you go further down (it), there are actually homes that have frontage on Bell Drive. It’s very odd,” he added.
Bell Drive starts on Gaines Ferry Road and loops around to connect with McEver Road.
City Manager Bill Andrew said he believes that even if the railroad closed that section of road to public traffic, “it is likely they would put a gate (there) and leave it for us to use.
“The likelihood of them saying you can’t access your lift station is extremely minimal.”
Riker said “the best thing that can happen” is that property abutting the pump station and located between McEver Road and Bell Drive gets developed and the city can work out an agreement with the developer to access the pump station through that site.
The pump station is part of an overall project estimated to cost the city about $1.7 million.
The project calls for extending a sewer line from a small treatment plant the city operates at the Cinnamon Cove condominium complex off Gaines Ferry Road, about three miles from the city
The plan is to extend the line down Gaines Ferry, across McEver and over to the city’s sewer plant off Atlanta Highway. Once the project is completed, the city would shut down the Cinnamon Cove plant.
Flowery Branch’s 1-percent special purpose local option sales tax program is paying for the project but, because of falling revenues, could have to use other sources — including a reserve fund — to do the work.