The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has issued a five-year permit for Flowery Branch to operate a small sewer plant at Cinnamon Cove, a condominium complex about three miles from town.
The South Hall city likely won't need the permit for that long, as it plans to eventually shut down the facility and reroute the sewer to its main treatment plant off Atlanta Highway.
The 16-page permit, which expires Nov. 3, 2016, includes numerous conditions and requirements related to discharge, monitoring, sludge disposal and other issues.
"The main concern EPD had about renewing the permit was what was the schedule for us to take (the Cinnamon Cove plant) offline," City Manager Bill Andrew said.
If all goes as planned, the city hopes to move forward next year on a $1.8 million project that involves building two pump stations, one at Cinnamon Cove and the other off Bell Drive, or near Gaines Ferry and McEver roads.
The project also entails installing a sewer line from Cinnamon Cove down Gaines Ferry Road to Atlanta Highway, crossing McEver Road.
It then would run north to the main sewer plant.
The lines would run a total of 19,000 feet, or about 3.5 miles.
The city's special purpose local option sales taxes would pay for about $1.3 million of the costs, with the remaining amount from the city's water and sewer fund.
Construction could start in the spring, with the work taking about nine months, City Planner James Riker has said.
Andrew has said the sewer expansion wasn't intended as a move to annex outlying areas, including Cinnamon Cove and Four Seasons neighborhoods, but rather to spur development in that part of town.
In February 2010, the Flowery Branch City Council rezoned property at Gaines Ferry and McEver roads to light industrial.
Gainesville engineering firm Rochester & Associates sought the move on behalf of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Stonebridge LLC and Alpharetta-based Kelly Family Investments. No projects were planned at the time.
On Tuesday, Brian Rochester, executive vice president, delayed commenting on where the project stands until he had spoken with the client on the matter.