Oconee County commissioners on Tuesday night tentatively approved an agreement that will allocate to the city of Watkinsville 100,000 gallons per day of sewage treatment capacity from the county’s Calls Creek Water Reclamation Facility and provide another 100,000 gallons per day when that plant is expanded.
Watkinsville can use that allocated sewage treatment capacity as it sees fit, including for residential use at the proposed multi-use Wire Park development on Barnett Shoals Road.
Watkinsville Council has approved a sewer policy that states that the city will use the sewer capacity from the county to serve residential customers in the city’s core as a first priority, but it allows for other uses as well.
At present, the amount of sewer capacity that Oconee County has set aside for residential use outside Watkinsville is exhausted, meaning that the only residential developments in the county eligible for sewer services in the near future will be those within the city limits of Watkinsville.
In other action on Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners discussed a recently completed assessment of historical structures, all but one of them on county property, and a plan to begin spending Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue for repairs to those structures.
The Board also agreed to pay $140,066 in contract modifications for work on the Mars Hill Road/Rocky Branch Road/Virgil Langford Road intersection and received an update on plans for construction of the Bishop Farms Parkway extension.
The Board of Commissioners took two separate actions on Tuesdays to bring about the transfer or allocation of sewer capacity to Watkinsville.
|Kirouac And County Clerk Kathy Hayes 1/28/2020|
The first was modification of the county’s existing Wastewater Treatment Capacity Policy, which had been approved by Board in February of 2017. The modification on Tuesday was to include the allocation for Watkinsville.
Both the existing policy and the policy tentatively approved by the Board on Tuesday night set aside 20 percent of the capacity of the Calls Creek Plant as reserve.
Of the unreserved capacity, in both the old and new policy, 20 percent of the capacity is set aside for “industrial and manufacturing use.”
The new policy states that “No allocation of Capacity shall be made which results in more than 30% of the Capacity at any sewer treatment facility being allocated to residential use outside of the city limits of Watkinsville, which shall include condominiums, duplexes, mobile homes, single family homes and apartments, but shall not include facilities operated as a Continuing Care Retirement Community...or Assisted Living Community.”
The old policy did not include the reference to Watkinsville and allocated 2 percent within the 30 percent for residential use “for the connection of existing residential structures located within the boundaries of municipalities in Oconee County.”
That statement has been removed from the new policy.
The unassigned capacity in the new policy is for nonresidential and nonindustrial uses, including for commercial use.
Amendment To 1991 Agreement
In the second action, the Board of Commissioners amended the 1991 Water and Sewer Agreement with the City of Watkinsville.
That 1991 agreement had been approved when Watkinsville turned over to the county the Calls Creek sewage treatment plant and all responsibility for water services and sewage treatment in the city. The county’s current sewage treatment capability grew from that transfer.
The 1991 agreement required the county, in return for the transfer, to provide the city “with reasonable sewer capacity for its citizens, residences and businesses.” The inclusion of “residences” indicates the county was expected to provide residential sewer to the city.
The amendment tentatively approved on Tuesday grants to the City of Watkinsville 100,000 gallons per day of treatment capacity and an additional 100,000 gallons per day when the Calls Creek plant is upgraded from its current 1.5 million gallons per day of capacity to 3 million gallons per day. The county has no date for that upgrade.
Watkinsville also is to agree to transfer to the county ownership of the land on which the Calls Creek treatment plant sits. At present, the county leases the land.
The agreement tentatively approved on Tuesday also states that when the Calls Creek plant is upgraded to 3 million gallons per day the city “will have the option to renegotiate additional capacity” beyond the 100,000 gallons per day, and when the county’s sewer capacity goes above 3 million gallons per day, the city also can negotiate for “additional capacity.”
The agreement establishes a geographic area within the Watkinsville Industrial Park that will be served by the county but will not count against the county’s 100,000 gallons per day allocation of sewer capacity to the city.
At the meeting on Tuesday, the Board put the change in the county’s Wastewater Treatment Capacity Policy and the amendment to the 1991 Water and Sewer Agreement with Watkinsville on the consent agenda for this coming Tuesday night, meaning the Board will approve them without further discussion unless a commissioner asks that they be taken off the consent agenda.
Implications For Wire Park
The existing Southwire facility is part of the Industrial Park inside Watkinsville that will be served by the county without subtracting from the 100,000 gallons per day allocation, but the agreement stipulates that any residential use in that area will be counted against the 100,000 allocation.
The agreement also states that the allocation is “for uses within the jurisdictional limits of the City as of the date of this agreement.”
County Administrator Justin Kirouac, in his note to the Commissioners before the meeting, said “The policy applies to the existing corporate limits of Watkinsville and any land annexed in the future would be subject to the overall county policy.”
Duke Gibbs, the developer of Wire Park, has said that he will ask the city to annex the 4.5 acres of land he purchased from Southwire for the Wire Park project that are outside the city limits.
Under the agreement before the Board on Tuesday, the city would not be able to use its 100,000 gallons per day allocation to serve the proposed residential development on that acreage.
At the same time, the county has no excess residential capacity to serve those residences, indicating they would have to be built with individual septic systems.
The city would be able to provide residential sewer in the remaining 62.1 acres that Gibbs purchased for Wire Park with the 100,000 gallons per day allocation.
County Administrator Kirouac confirmed in an email after the Tuesday meeting that the county’s earlier agreement to provide sewer services to the Wisteria Ridge residential project on North Main Street is not affected by the new agreement.
Historic Properties Report
The county contracted last year with Precision Planning Inc. of Lawrenceville for assistance with maintenance of historical properties in the county, Alex Newell, Internal Services director for the county, told the Board on Tuesday.
According to the PPI report, dated December 2019, the firm was to do an “assessment and cursory review of historic structures at various locations in Oconee County for the purpose of determining current condition of building systems and help determine needed repairs and future maintenance.”
Newell said PPI had a structural engineer look at Eagle Tavern on Main Street across from the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville, the William Daniell House, 1070 Founders Boulevard, off Daniells Bridge Road, five buildings relocated to Heritage Park on U.S. 441 in the far south of the county, and the Elder Mill Covered Bridge on Elder Mill Road.
Only the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is not on county property, Newell confirmed in response to a question from Commissioner Mark Thomas. Thomas was concerned about plans to protect the bridge from vandalism.
PPI, in its report, identified “the various needs of each structure in order to maintain its integrity over approximately the next 10 years,” Newell said.
The staff is working on the issuance of requests for proposals for work on the structures, Newell said.
Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said funding for this work would come from money in the 2009 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and, if necessary, from the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax as well.
Both of the SPLOST initiatives set aside money for historic preservation, but neither designated how that money was to be spent.
The Board of Commissioners in August of last year approved a bid by CMES Inc. of Norcross for reconstruction of the Mars Hill Road intersection with Rocky Branch Road and Virgil Langford Road.
Virgil Langford intersects with Mars Hill Road from the north at that point, and Rocky Branch Road intersects, though not at a right angle, from the south.
Jody Woodall, director of Public Works for the county, told the commissioners that a contract modification was needed to cover work that was not in the original contract. The project is complete.
The changes will increase the contract amount from $702,447 to $843,107, Woodall said.
Board of Commissioners Chair Daniell said the money will come from the county’s reserves.
The Board put the item on the consent agenda for Tuesday.
Woodall also reported that the county is evaluating four bids for construction of the extension of Bishop Farms Parkway from its current terminus just past the Oconee County Campus of the University of North Georgia to New High Shoals Road.
Woodall said he expected to have a recommendation on those bids to bring to the Board at its meeting next week.
Courthouse Expansion, Budget Submittal Schedule
At the beginning of the meeting on Tuesday, Commission Chair Daniell asked Kirouac to give an update on the Courthouse expansion.
|From Geddings' PowerPoint Presentation 1/28/2020|
Kirouac said the county has a certificate of occupancy in hand for the new section of the building, though some of the space is not being finished out at this point.
The Sheriff’s Office is undergoing training for use of the security technology in the completed space, he said.
Kirouac said the project originally was to cost $3.2 million, but the county negotiated to get the figure down to $2.4 million and he expects the actual cost to be less than that.
At the end of the meeting, County Finance Director Wes Geddings gave the commissioners the Budget Submittal Plan for Fiscal Year 2021.
The first public hearing is scheduled for April 21, and approval is scheduled for June 2.
The video below is of the Jan. 28 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
Discussion of the changes in the county’s sewer policy is at 5:18 in the video.
Discussion of the amendment to the agreement with the City of Watkinsville is at 15:45 in the video.
Woodall reported on the Bishop Farms Parkway extension at 17:30 in the video and on the contract modification with CMES Inc. at 18:39.
Discussion of the historic properties is at 28:34 in the video.