The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow evening in a called meeting to consider changes to the county’s policy on computation of sewer capacity fees.
Utility Department Director Chris Thomas told me on Friday that he is proposing that the county change when capacity fees are paid and how they are calculated.
At present, developers pay a fee to reserve capacity in the county’s sewage treatment system at the time the county issues the first permit, such as a land disturbance permit. Thomas wants to postpone payment of the fee until a building permit is issued.
He also wants to charge for 5 gallons of capacity for each 100 square feet of space in the building, rather than for 10 gallons per square foot, as is currently the case. At present, the amount charged drops to 5 gallons per square foot if the building is more than 10,000 square feet in size.
The fee is $9.50 per gallon of capacity, and developers have the option of paying for 208 gallons per day of capacity, or the estimated usage of a residence.
Thomas told me he is asking for the change now because of pending applications for sewer capacity from Epps Bridge Centre and from other projects in the SR 316 corridor.
Fees Already Paid
Capacity fees already have been paid for buildings already under construction at Epps Bridge Centre, the $76 million shopping center between Epps Bridge Parkway, SR Loop 10 and the Oconee Connector.
The county today issued a building shell permit for out parcel 10, one of 12 out parcels for the mall, according to Linda Patterson from the Oconee County Code Enforcement Office. This was the first building permit issued for outparcels on the project.
Patterson told me late this afternoon that no occupancy permit had been issued yet for University 16 Cinema.
Bo Chambliss, president of Georgia Theatre Company, which owns the theater, told the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on May 28 that he plans to have the theater open for business on Friday.
While Thomas did not reveal the specific projects that are “getting ready to pay” capacity fees, land planning firm Williams and Associates filed documents with the Oconee County Planning Department last month proposing a $57 million project for the northeast corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector.
Georgia Skin Cancer and Aesthetic Dematology has placed a sign at the corner of the Oconee Connector and Virgil Langford Road in what is an outparcel of that project.
The project, called Resurgence Park, also is to include an assisted living facility, medical offices and a hotel, according to the plans submitted to the county.
The Board of Commissioners last month approved a change in sewer policy that will allow the assisted living facility to be classified as commercial. The county has exceeded the amount of sewer capacity it has set aside for residential use.
Williams and Associates will need a change in zoning for the project before any building permits can be issued.
Capacity Fees A Problem
The county has struggled with how sewer capacity fees are handled.
Last June, then County Administrative Officer Alan Theriault issued a report on an investigation of the issue.
Theriault said the “review was initiated primarily because of complaints and criticisms received by members of the Board from citizens, business and others about the methodologies employed to calculate and assess those fees, the cost of capacity fees themselves, and what appeared not to be a uniform, consistent and a fair manner in which the fees were collected.”
Sewer capacity fees are paid by developers and businesses to be allowed to reserve the capacity of the county’s two treatment facilities, one on a tributary to Calls Creek in Watkinsville and the other on Rocky Branch Road in the western part of the county.
County Clerk Jane Greathouse sent out notice about tomorrow night’s called meet late on Thursday afternoon. The meeting will be held in the courthouse in Watkinsville.