Oconee County told Mercedes-Benz of Athens Friday that the county will not be able to provide sewer service for the planned new auto dealership on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road for another 12 to 18 months.
The announcement coincided with the release of a memorandum stating that those requesting Letters of Availability of sewer service be advised of limited capacity in parts of the county’s service area and the complete lack of availability in others, including where the Mercedes-Benz facility is planned.
The county released the announcement on sewer capacity in a meeting of the county’s Development Review Committee, which was considering the Preliminary Site Plan and Site Development Plans for the new auto dealership.
The DRC approved the Preliminary Site Plan, but Sandy Weinel, assistant director of the Planning and Code Enforcement Department, told a representative of Mercedes-Benz the firm will have to build a private septic system if it wants to move forward before sewer capacity is available.
The Development Review Committee also reviewed revised Site Development Plans for a Burger King restaurant on Hog Mountain Road across from Oconee Elementary School.
The only question raised was about striping on Hog Mountain Road at the entrance to the drive-through restaurant, and no resolution was reached on that issue.
Utility Department Memorandum
Weinel, who chaired the DRC meeting, raised the problem of sewer services at the beginning of the discussion of the Mercedes-Benz plans.
|Adam Layfield, Left, Public Works, And Ken Beall|
“The biggest issue for this project right now is that there is no sewer capacity available,” Weinel told Jason Stough, of On Site Civil Group of Milton, representing Mercedes-Benz at the meeting. “There is a 12- to 18-month delay,” she added.
Weinel gave Stough a copy of a Memorandum dated March 21 from Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie to herself and B.R. White, director of the Planning and Code Enforcement Department.
The memorandum states that both the county’s Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road and Calls Creek wasterwater plant on the northern edge of Watkinsville “are experiencing conditions that place them near or over their allowable capacity.”
How To Respond
The Calls Creek plant is being expanded, and additional capacity should become available in 12 to 18 months, Haynie’s memorandum states.
Some of the current flow to the LAS will be diverted to the Calls Creek plant, and “some limited commercial and industrial capacity” will become available at the LAS sometime in the middle of 2018, Haynie wrote.
In the meantime, those who ask about capacity are to be told that, if the project is in the Calls Creek service basin, the county will “assess the requested wastewater load and issue a letter that may qualify or limit the amount of capacity available.”
If the project is in the LAS service area, “we may defer on the letter or, if requested, issue a letter stating that capacity does not current exist,” according to the memorandum.
Rezone For Dealership
In June of last year, the Board of Commissioners approved a rezone request for nearly 30 acres on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road for a proposed cluster of auto dealerships and related businesses.
Mercedes-Benz was identified as a potential tenant, and county tax records show that TT of Athens Inc., owner of the Mercedes-Benz dealership and a West Palm Beach, Fla., auto business, purchased the property in July of 2016.
The Preliminary Site Plan approved by the DRC was for 8.3 acres and shows a 360,431-square-foot-building fronting on SR 316.
The dealership will be accessible off Jimmy Daniell Road.
Effect On Plans
Stough of On Site Civil told the DRC that it would take about 18 months to finish work on the Mercedes-Benz dealership so the delay might not be a problem.
“At this point, it is what it is,” he said of the lack of sewer capacity. “If we don’t have it, we don’t have it.”
The project could be delayed a year to accommodate the lack of sewer, he said.
“I know the sewer issue is a problem,” he said. “I’m going to speak with the owner and see how they want to approach it.”
In the initial rezone proposal, Williams and Associates, the land planning firm representing the dealership, had estimated that the entire complex would require 7,940 gallons per day of sewer capacity.
Haynie had not made a firm commitment indicating that capacity would be available.
Ken Beall of Beall and Company represented Burger King at the DRC meeting.
Beall also had represented Stonebridge Partners LLC in the rezone request for two drive through restaurants opposite the school complex that includes Oconee Middle School, Oconee Primary School, and Oconee Elementary School.
The revised site development plans reviewed by the DRC modify the previous plans to accommodate Burger King by adjusting the building location and revising the lot design.
The site plans show a 3,410-square-foot-building separated by a parking from the existing Subway restaurant.
The Board of Commissioners voted in July to rezone the nearly two acres for the two restaurants, both with drive-through operations.
The county’s Development Review Committee provides technical reviews of zoning applications, construction plans and other related matters.
It consists of representatives of the Planning and Code Enforcement Department, the Public Works Department, the Environmental Health Department, the Utility Department, and the Emergency Management and Fire Department.
The meeting today took place in the conference room of the Government Annex on SR 15 on the south of Watkinsville.
The video below is of the entire meeting.
The discussion of the Mercedes-Benz plans was the first item on the agenda.
The discussion of the Burger King was the last item on the agenda and begins at 19:30.