Jamie Woodhead / Beaconcast
After a year and a half of cityhood, guess what Milton City Council and Mayor just figured out? They do not have a viable sewer policy.
Last week’s council meeting turned into a spotlight on the total lack of knowledge of the city’s sewer policy by government officials. The city has a broad “no sewer” mandate stemming from November’s election results. This means that most properties have septic systems for their waste. Milton sees a link between development and sewers, so by denying new sewers the city strives to keep large developments away. No Sewer = No Development Ken Morton of Webb Road Associates brought forth the first item on the city’s zoning agenda. He wanted to modify the site plan on the north side of Webb Road, and he requested a deferral until August because of sewer problems. The deferral request turned into Council’s realization that the city needs a formal and specific sewer policy. In the city’s most recent survey, 80 percent of citizens who participated wanted to uphold the no sewer policy, but Council was confused how best to do so.
“I believe that the sewer versus no sewer policy is the biggest issue facing our community,” said Councilwoman Julie Zahner Bailey. “Instead of focusing on short-term solutions, we need to roll up our sleeves and have a workshop with open, public discussions on sewer policy.”
Council member Bill Lusk went on to highlight the city’s confusion when he stated, “We haven’t really defined what a no sewer policy means. We need to solve this issue once and for all. We need to terminate a discussion that’s case by case.”
Tart Gets Tough
As discussion over sewers continued, a frustrated Councilman Alan Tart said, “This is a waste of our applicants’ time and our time to keep bringing this up. There seems to be a theme at Council to put temporary band aids on issues just to get us to the next week.”
The Council finally decided that they need to hold a workshop to solve the city’s sewer mess, but they had no immediate answer for applicant Ken Morton. Morton decided to withdraw his application “because of all this confusion. Let’s get this resolved as quickly as possible. Let’s get sewers where they need to be, in smart places.”
Milton Organizers, the next applicants who sought to redesign a site plan off of Highway 9 to eliminate septic and connect to sewer, also decided to withdraw their application because of the sewer mayhem.
Following Milton Organizers, Eric Johansen of the Inland Group petitioned to modify a site plan on the south side of Cumming Highway. At first, this application held the promise of being easily approved. Staff supported the modified site plan, and Johansen even pointed out that there should not be a sewer issue here because there is already a sewer line running through the property. However, Councilman Tart, along with Council members Zahner Baily and Tina D’Aversa, hesitated with the application. “The issue of sewer is still an issue for this application too,” he explained. “I’d hate to approve this applicant when there’s confusion about sewers,” said Tart.
Council finally decided to defer the item until July 7 because of a question about sewer availability. Johansen, who wanted to immediately start work on the site, was not happy about the deferral. Like Morton, he explained to Council that he hoped they would quickly decide upon a sewer policy.