Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Oconee County Commissioners Say No to Zoom Bait/St. Mary’s/Gordy Sewer Line Project

At Least for Now

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight voted unanimously not to take any action on the proposed Zoom Bait/St. Mary’s/Gordy sewer line project.

The Commissioners did not rule out moving forward with the project at some point in the future, but it did not set any firm date to reconsider the sewer line.

The decision would seem to preclude the county accepting the $186,711 grant the county has been awarded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for the sewer line. Work on the project would have to be completed by Oct. 5 of this year under that grant.

The BOC took the action following a presentation by Jimmy Parker of Precision Planning Inc. of Lawrenceville and Oconee County Utility Department Director Chris Thomas, who recommended that the BOC move forward with a modified plan for a larger sewer line than originally proposed.

Parker, a consultant to the county, and Thomas estimated the modified plan would cost between $790,000 and $820,000, or about 20 percent higher than originally expected.

The modified plan increased the sewer line from 12 to 18 inches in diameter to allow for increased capacity of 3 million gallons per day, rather than 1 million gallons per day.

The larger line would allow the county to connect to sewer lines along McNutt Creek the county might build in the future.

The county began discussing the sewer line publicly in May of 2009. At that time, it was presented as a line to serve only Zoom Bait, a manufacturer of artificial fishing lures, and St. Mary’s Health Care System, both on Jennings Mill Road near the McNutt Creek border with Clarke County.

In November Thomas told the BOC that he also had been discussing the project with Atlanta Developer Frank Bishop, who had an option on the 114-acre Gordy tract, which also would benefit from the sewer line.

The Gordy property lies behind Lowe’s, WalMart and Kohl’s on Epps Bridge Parkway and will be open for development when the state completes the Oconee Connector Extension at the end of this year.

The Commissioners tonight were being asked to rebid the sewer line project, since the initial bids had expired.

Commissioner Chuck Horton made the motion not to take any action, and the motion was seconded by Commissioner Margaret Hale.

Commissioner John Daniell said he did not want to see all discussions come to a halt, and Chairman Melvin Davis, who has been the proponent of the project, crafted a compromise motion that allows the county to revisit the project in the future.

Commissioner Hale said the commissioners need to “put this to bed” and come back to it later without the pressures of the grant.

The Commissioners tonight also heard a report from Wayne Provost, director of strategic and long-range planning for the county, on proposed priorities for transportation projects in the county.

These are the projects that the county is hoping will be funded if voters in August of 2012 approve an additional 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects.

Provost said the county is proposing that the widdening of Mars Hill Road from SR 316 to Watkinsville be the top priority, followed by a grade separated interchange for SR 316 and the Oconee Connector, a widening of Jimmy Daniel Road, a flyover of SR Loop 10 for Daniells Bridge Road, and a widening of US 441 to four-lane through the county, including a bypass of Bishop.

Citizens will get a chance to review and discuss these priorities at the regular meeting of the Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee on March 8.

That meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Community Center in Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.