Sewer Extension Meeting at City Hall Monday, August 4th - 4:00 p.m. Critical Meeting! Please attend
Dear Milton Citizens, Friends and Neighbors -
I want to let you know about the very real risk of sewer extension in Milton and a critical meeting that has been called for this coming Monday, August 4th at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall. This Special Called Work Session deserves your attention and your attendance.
There is a real risk of sewer extension in the City of Milton. Efforts are underway to consider approval of extension of sewer to new parcels, adoption of a new sewer map that would extend sewer, and creation of a new sewer policy for Milton. A City Council work session is planned for the subject for Monday August 4. This is a public meeting.
Why should you care about sewer extension?
Development density in Milton is currently limited by the natural constraints of the land, especially soil percolation. Average yields for a home site historically have been closer to 1.6 acres to the home because of these natural constraints. Sewer allows nearly all land to be developed regardless of soil types and topography in 1 acre lots or more, allowing unlimited density. The introduction of sewer into new areas allows for higher residential and commercial density expansion otherwise not possible. This is completely inconsistent with the citizens' vision for a rural Milton.
Purpose of this Update and Background Information
The purpose of this email is to:
Ensure that you are aware of this very real risk of sewer extension and the increased density that comes with it.
Apprise you of a Special Work Session scheduled for this coming Monday, August 4th at 4:00 p.m. to discuss sewer including:
A proposed map from Fulton County re: a revised Inter Governmental Agreement with Fulton County and Milton that shows significant sewer extension, The on-going request for sewer for certain parcels despite their being in the historically "no sewer" area, and the potential for a "new" sewer policy that could undermine many of the tenets of the existing long standing no sewer policies.
Encourage you to attend the meeting and make your opinions known both in advance of the meeting and via email to the Mayor, the entire Council, and Staff. You all have told me via the first and second election and through your recent Milton survey responses that the issue of sewer extension is the biggest issue and concern to you individually and collectively. This makes sense, since it is the single largest exposure to removing our unique rural character. My position is clear, has been consistent, and will remain consistent - that is that I do not support sewer extension and instead support the affirmation of the long standing no-sewer policies. This also means I support sewer in the locations where sewer exists today, but I do not support sewer extension. Please note, however, I am only one of seven who have a vote on the issues before us. This is your community and the time is now to remind each of your elected officials what you expect of us for your community.The most recent Milton survey results, with a 25% response rate from 3,000 households (and approximately 6,000 residents) reflected that 87% of responding citizens fully expect the no sewer policies to remain in place. Some on the Council may not recognize this mandate.
What are the risks?
There are three components to the current evaluation of sewer and each carries with it very real risks for Milton. They are as follows:
1. A proposed revised Inter Governmental Agreement with Fulton County put forth by Commissioner Riley and Fulton County - the proposed map reflects significant sewer extension.
I have advocated the need to revise that IGA, but to revise it consistent with the long standing No Sewer Policies of Milton. However, the most recent map proposed by Fulton County and Commissioner Lynne Riley reflects significant sewer extension into Milton in areas interior to Highway 9, (West side) as well as in the Crabapple area heading North. Make no mistake, if this new sewer service map proposed by Fulton County - and embraced potentially by some on the Milton Council - is approved, sewer would be extended to parts of Milton not previously allowed sewer.
2. Consideration of sewer extension to specific parcels and projects (referred to as "red dots" that previously were not identified as sewerable given their location within the Etowah Basin and given that they were not allowed sewer according to the No Inter Basin Transfer policy).
Summary Risk - Some of these parcels are in the Etowah Basin and would directly violate our sewer extension policy - allowing increased density to creep outward.
Use this link to see those specific projects.In most of these instances, the parcels or projects were identified by Fulton and Milton staff as being acceptable and in the Big Creek Basin but, instead, the "red dots", lie within the Etowah Basin and in large part, are not identified as "exceptions" to the No Inter Basin Transfer Policy. In other words, to extend sewer to these parcels effectively would be violating the very policies we have held dear since 1995 and that were further amended and affirmed in 1999 and again, as recently in July, 2006 by Fulton County. Further, this same No Inter Basin Transfer Policy was adopted unanimously by the City of Milton when the area became incorporated.I do not believe we should extend sewer to parcels previously disallowed from sewer extension. However, others have indicated a willingness to support such sewer extension.
3. Discussion and beginning evaluation of an overall sewer/no sewer policy for Milton.
Summary Risk - between the above mentioned revised and proposed map from Fulton County and one-off decisions on "red dot" properties, we could end up with a sewer extension policy by default.There have been references made for the need to have a "sewer policy" for Milton, yet we have not yet had the first work session on any such policy. The fact that seems to be ignored is that Milton has an existing legal sewer policy, i.e. the "No Inter Basin Transfer Policy". I believe that we must first affirm the policies we have in place already. Staff Proposed Template as a Basis for Possible New Milton Sewer Policy. Additionally, City Staff has proposed Milton use a "template" from Prince William County, Virginia for a possible new Milton sewer policy. While on the surface, this might seem like a reasonable idea, when you look further, immediate questions arise that might preclude this template as an option for Milton. As an example, it sets forth multiple exceptions to their sewer policy allowing sewer to be extended into otherwise defined semi-rural ("no sewer") areas for schools, libraries, fire stations and other instances. Why would Milton endeavor to establish a "new" sewer policy for our City written from the onset with multiple exceptions to the policy we claim to want to uphold?Instead, I believe that we should create our own policy grounded in the fundamentals that have served this community well for the last 19 years including affirmation of those areas that have been and should remain no-sewer while specifying those specific parcels where sewer is acceptable based on current locations.
Any policy should:
Affirm the long standing no sewer policies
Affirm a revised IGA with Fulton County that does not extend sewer, but instead confirms the existing locations and specific land lots where sewer is consistent with the long standing policies of the area. This would reaffirm where sewer is acceptable on properties that front Highway 9, but that would not allow for the expansion of sewer interior to Milton both interior to Highway 9, closer to Cogburn, and interior to Crabapple.Specifically define where sewer can be allowed and where it must not be extended Ensure proper septic tank placement and regular maintenance with a mechanism in place to monitor appropriate maintenance on a set period of years
Prohibit private sewerage extension in addition to public sewerage extension
Prohibit sewer extension from adjacent or near by jurisdictions. Bottom line, a sewer / no sewer policy for Milton must begin with Milton, not some other community that may not have the same City profile, values or land planning approaches for their long range plans.
Prince William Sewer Policy and Long Range Land Use Plan
Two recent -- 7/21 and 7/27 -- AJC articles where the Prince William Sewer Policy is referenced.
What can you do?
Take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the issues.
Engage a friend, neighbor, and colleague.
Send your opinions and expectations via email and phone calls to the Mayor, the full Council, Staff, and our City Manager. Ensure that we all know what you expect of us.
Use this link for contact info. for Mayor and Council
Remember that the survey results from across Milton indicated that 87% of those respondents said "no sewer extension." Please remind us all that you meant what you said.
Hold us all accountable to do what you elected us to do - represent your interests.
Attend the August 4th meeting at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall. Don't just sit in a chair, but tell us what you think. We are here to represent you. Do not assume that we all know what you expect of us regarding the critical issue of sewer vs. no sewer. Do not assume that someone else will communicate your desires and expectations for your community. Forgive the length of this release, but it is imperative that you let your voice be heard and your opinions counted. In my opinion, there is no more important issue to the future of Milton than how we decide to deal with the issue of sewer, no sewer, sewer extension, and all that goes with it. I am accountable to you, the people that elected me to represent your interests in this little piece of heaven we all call home. I can only do the job you put me in place to do if you hold everyone else accountable too and ensure they know first hand what you expect of all of us.Please do not hesitate to phone me with your questions, comments and input. This is your community and I consider it an honor and a very serious responsibility to represent you and your families.Your voice matters now perhaps more than ever.
Respectfully, Julie Zahner Bailey Milton City Council