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 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.
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.
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.