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Oconee Commission Backs Away From Sewer Project For Now

At a meeting Mar. 1, Oconee County Commissioners opted for staff to collect more information and report back before they consider taking further action on the proposed St. Mary's/Zoom Bait sewer line.

After much debate, Tuesday said they want more information before moving forward with the proposed St. Mary's/Zoom Bait sewer line project.

The commission heard a recommendation  from Jimmy Parker of Precision Planning Inc. and Oconee County Utility Director Chris Thomas to modify the  sewer project.  Parker said to accommodate for growth, an 18 inch line would be preferable to the originally suggested 12 inch line for increased capacity.  He also recommended that the project cover a much larger portion of the county.

The project would be partially funded by a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and would need to be completed by October in order to use the $186,711.

"I don't know trying to hold onto this grant at this point is productive," Commissioner Jim Luke said.  "I'm not sure on a project this important that we make decisions based on the state's grant."

Commissioner Margaret Hale said she was tired of the pressure of the grant's time constraints.

"I think we should put this to bed, do more homework and look at a master plan," she said.

"The Board has been nothing but careful about this.  It's not a fix-all, but a good step," Commissioner John Daniell said, adding that he would rather postpone action on the project --pending more information-- than kill it altogether.

In the end, commissioners voted not to proceed with the project at this time, but asked staff to provide additional information at future work sessions.

Wayne Provost, director of Oconee's strategic and long-range planning, also addressed the Commission at the meeting.  He discussed Oconee's requirement for the Transportation Act of 2010

Provost said the legislation requires the state be divided into 12 regions that are to each draft a 1 percent regional sales tax referendum to be voted on by citizens in July of 2012.  Oconee County and its municipalities must submit a combined unconstrained project list to the Northeast Georgia Regional Transportation Roundtable by the end of March for consideration, he said.

Provost said a list of proposed transportation projects in the county would be available on the Oconee County government website by Wednesday for view. 

If the referendum were to pass, 25 percent of the monies would be returned for local transportation use and 75 percent would fund specific regional transportation projects as voted on by citizens, he said.

In other news from Tuesday, commissioners:

  • Appointed Angela Helwig as executive director of the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission.  Helwig succeeds Esther Porter, who earlier in the month.  Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Melvin Davis said the county is thankful for Porter's work done during the time she served as director.  Porter will continue work with the KOCBC in a different capacity along with Monica Ali  and Mary Mellein, who were all appointed to serve on the commission until June 30, 2014. 
  • Approved variance request 5985 by Southeastern PVC Pipe Manufacturing to reduce the required landscape buffer on 2.371 acres in the northeast corner of Mars Hill Road and the intersection of Highway 78.  The for the area is a gas station and convenience store with two entrances. 
  • Approved an addendem to a Georgia Department of Transportation contract that states Oconee County will be reimbursed in increments for the acquisition of right-of-way for the , Phase I.
  • Confirmed Monte Stephens' appointment as the Oconee County Extension Coordinator.

Correction: Esther Porter's name was misspelled in the original version.  It has been corrected.

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