Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Vote To Refund Sewer Capacity Fees For Dormant Subdivisions

Parkside And Westland On List

Oconee County Commissioners voted last (Tuesday) night to refund sewer capacity for four undeveloped subdivisions in the county, significantly reducing the need for increased sewage treatment capacity in the county.

The decision will make those four housing projects, including the massive Parkside and Westland subdivisions, unbuildable as zoned, since they require sewage capacity for the intensive development proposed.

The decision provides some relief to the county school system, which has raised concerns about the increased residential growth on the county schools.

The Commission also changed its allocation of sewage capacity to allow a maximum of 30 percent from residential use, rather than the current 40 percent, and eliminated the option that developers with reserved capacity can transfer it to other users.

Calls Creek Expansion

Even with the freeing up of sewer capacity, Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie recommended that the Board move forward with an upgrade to the existing Calls Creek plant on the north side of Watkinsville to 1.5 million gallons per day from the existing .667 million gallons per day.

The Board agreed to take action on the request for the $13.5 million expansion at its meeting next week.

Commissioners John Daniell, Mark Thomas, Chuck Horton,
W.E. "Bubber" Wilkes and Mark Saxon, with Wayne Haynie

Haynie said the upgrade plan does not include building a pipeline down Calls Creek, which residents along the creek have opposed strongly.

Haynie did hedge on whether the proposed plant might be expanded in the future beyond the proposed 1.5 million gallons per day.

Stakeholder Committee

The front of the Commission meeting was dominated by presentations by 25 citizens seeking to be named to a Stakeholders Committee for development of a new comprehensive plan.

An additional five citizens were listed as interested in being named to the Committee but did not attend the BOC meeting.

In addition, the county’s four cities will appoint a member, as will the Board of Education.

B.R. White, director of the county Planning and Code Enforcement Department, has said he expects the Stakeholder Committee to consist of 20 to 25 members.

Four Subdivisions

Effective this (Wednesday) morning, the county will refund $2.7 million in capacity fees to the developers of Parkside, Westland, Willow Creek and Wisteria Ridge, based on the vote of the Commission last night.

According to county records, Parkside was to have 810 residential lots, Westland was to have 430, and Willow Creek was to have 125.

Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell told me today that Willow Creek had paid for sewer for 124 lots, had connected four lots, and had transferred its right to 20 lots. So the county will refund payment for the remaining 100 lots.

Daniell said at the meeting last night that Wisteria Ridge had another 10 lots.

By refunding the capacity fee, the county would be freeing up about 400,000 gallons of commitments, Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie told the Board last night.

Board of Commission Chair John Daniell today (Wednesday) said the figure would be 280,800, based on the 1350 lots multiplied by 208 gallons per lot.

Master Plan Developments

Parkside is located between Hog Mountain Road and Mars Hill Road, stretching all the way to the edge of Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.

Westland is on U.S. 78 near the Apalachee River.

Willow Creek is on the south side of Hog Mountain Road opposite the Hog Mountain Road section of Parkside.

Wisteria Ridge is inside the city of Watkinsville, off North Main Street near Calls Creek.

Parkside, Westland and Willow Creek are master plan developments, meaning that they have small lots that cannot support septic systems and require the reserved sewer capacity for development as zoned.

Wisteria Ridge was to be an apartment complex, according to Watkinsville City Clerk Julie Sanders. Sanders told me today that the project proposal has been withdrawn and is no longer active.

BOC Chair Daniell told me he did not know how the 10 units of sewer capacity that was purchased for Wisteria Ridge had been calculated.

Background And Video

Daniell recommended to the Commission that it take the action to refund the sewer capacity, saying that all of the projects involved more than 100 units and had not purchased the reserved sewer capacity in three years.

Under the county's existing ordinance, Haynie reminded the Board, the county had the right to refund the capacity fee for any project that had not used capacity in the three-year period of time after purchase.

Developers submitted plans for a 41-acre enclave in Parkside late last year, but Daniell indicated on Tuesday night that no sewer capacity had been activated for the project in the three-year window.

In the video below, which is of the entire meeting, Haynie introduced the possibility of refunding sewer capacity in his comments, which begin at 1:14.

OCO: BOC 1 31 17 complete from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

13 comments:

Barb Carroll said...

responsible decision by the new boc. thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Haynie did hedge on whether the proposed plant might be expanded in the future beyond the proposed 1.5 million gallons per day."


Friends of Calls Creek: Call Haynie out on his "hedge".

Get a firm commitment: No expansion past 1.5mil for Calls Creek!

Don't take no for an answer.

Anonymous said...

Haynie "hedged" for a couple of reasons, both of which are beyond his control. 1) Only the BOC can make that policy decision, and one BOC can't bind a future BOC. 2) Even then, only the EPD can allow an increased discharge into Calls Creek beyond the 1.5 Million GPD.

Jim McGarvey FOCC said...

The BOC would not allow any comments on the proposed new plant at Calls Creek. That was the only agenda item, of 17 items, that the BOC would not allow comment. We have called upon Mr. Haynie over 25 times in the past year to say he will not put a pipe down Calls Creek - he has refused 25 times. All of Mr. Haynie's many plans would ultimately require a pipe down Calls Creek.The BOC has refused to commit that they will not put a pipe down Calls Creek, though two Commissioners, Horton and Wilkes said they will never vote for the pipe down the Calls Creek. One cannot get a firm commitment from Mr. Haynie "a good engineer always keeps all of his options open". Attend a BOC meeting and you will come to realize that we do not take "no" for an answer.

Lee Becker said...

Anonymous 6:41 a.m.

Haynie was quite clear in saying that he was bringing his proposal for plant expansion before the Commission for its action. The BOC will have to decide how much money it wants to spend on the new plant and on infrastructure to support it.

Historically, the Commission has been quite deferential to the Utility Department director, who has more autonomy than the other department heads because the Utility Department is termed an "enterprise" operation. That means it has to cover its own expenses. Until recently, financing was not centralized, and the county audit treats the department as a separate entity.

Lee

Anonymous said...

Lord bless Jim McGarvey and the FoCC for fighting the good fight!


Jim McGarvey FOCC said...
The BOC would not allow any comments on the proposed new plant at Calls Creek. That was the only agenda item, of 17 items, that the BOC would not allow comment.

-Telling, just very telling. 17 agenda items and only this one had no public comment??!! Very disappointed in John Daniell on this; he runs the meetings now and sets the agenda. No need to have a bunch of FoCC speakers and let the meetings drag, but for gosh sakes, let Jim and one or two others have their say!


Jim McGarvey FOCC said...
We have called upon Mr. Haynie over 25 times in the past year to say he will not put a pipe down Calls Creek - he has refused 25 times. All of Mr. Haynie's many plans would ultimately require a pipe down Calls Creek.

-That's the elephant in the room. All of Haynie's plans eventually mean a pipe in the backyards. Haynie or the next Utility Director will wait out the FoCC, and/or wait for new commissioners who will vote for it. The FoCC is going to have to stay vigilant and on notice relentlessly. I don't put it past the powers that be to sneak this through "under the radar".

It's a tough way to live, never knowing if and when this is going to be revisited. The FoCC is going to need to replenish its leadership regularly as people cycle on and off. The next leader, and next leader, and next will have to be as strong of a leader as Jim McG is, can't have any drop off.


Jim McGarvey FOCC said...
One cannot get a firm commitment from Mr. Haynie "a good engineer always keeps all of his options open".

-But there are much better options Mr. Haynie?! The FoCC has done much of the legwork for 'ya. What's most convenient for Utility Dept. staff may not be what's the best option for all involved parties. There has to be give and take, and I personally don't see enough give and take from Mr. Haynie.


Last comment: Grab the low hanging fruit; partner with Athens Clarke County and get access to their extra capacity!

This is going to take leadership and negotiation. Being Commission Chair means heavy lifting; this may be the county's most pressing issue. Up to John Daniell to lead the way.

Anonymous said...

http://www.oconeecountyobservations.org/2017/01/proposal-for-christian-ministry-campus.html
“The narrative states that the development will require domestic water, fire protection, and sanitary sewer services in addition to electricity, natural gas, television and Internet service.
Long term sanitary sewer service options to serve the campus are currently being explored,” the narrative states. “The options include gravity sewer and a lift station to an Oconee County sewer treatment facility, or a self-contained package plant located on-site.
The staff is recommending approval of the special use request.”


More sewer capacity needed? Has Haynie or anyone else from the county been negotiating with them?

Does the Oconee County Planning Dept. recommend approval for every single darn proposal that come across their desks?? Ever say no??

Anonymous said...

The planning dept. has never met a developer or development that they didnt like. They exist to serve the developers.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's easy to criticize the Planning Department if one doesn't understand what their role is. As I understand it, and I may be wrong, the role Of the Planning Department is only to review projects submitted to them and determine if they meet the parameters of the Comprehensive Plan and the Unified Development Code....thus approval or denial. They do not base approval or denial on other aspects of the project. As I said, I may be wrong, so perhaps Mr. Becker can clarify for us ?

Lee Becker said...

Anonymous 7:39 a.m.

The review of the Planning Department staff is technical. As you write, the application is assessed against the Uniform Development Code and against the Comprehensive Plan.

The Planning staff doesn't always making recommendations, but it often does. The recommendations are based on the technical aspects of the rezone, but there is an element of judgment as well. This is particularly true regarding the Comprehensive Plan.

The ultimate decision on zoning is made by the Board of Commissioners, and the Planning staff cannot get too far ahead of or lag too far behind the assessments of the Commissioners. The Planning Department director reports to the County Administrative Officer, who reports to the Board of Commissioners.

Lee

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:39 am: What's the role of the Planning Commission?

The ten-member Planning Commission often recommends to not approve a proposal, yet that Planning Dept. approves them, even when the Planning Commission has voted 9-1 against.

Seems like a clear and troubling disconnect.

Anonymous said...

"The Planning Department director reports to the County Administrative Officer, who reports to the Board of Commissioners."


Hopefully the chain of command will be adhered to under John Daniell and Benko. The chain of command did not seem to be properly followed under Melvin Davis.

Anonymous said...

Planning department needs to go! We need new blood with vision to lead the county not build, build, build!