by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers
August 05, 2008 MILTON – Mayor Joe Lockwood said he has received "downright threats" in the form of e-mails and comments from residents concerned the city was going to strike a deal with Fulton County that could lead to more sewer in the city and diminish its "rural character."
The mayor revealed the threats Aug. 4 to the 50-plus people in attendance at a special-called work session on Milton's sewer issue. The belief that somehow council was looking to sell out its citizens, Lockwood said, made him frustrated at the misinformation he said surrounds the hot-button issue of sewer in his city. And after talking with Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley at the meeting about why the city's and county's plans on sewer might be different and could be reconciled, Lockwood said he felt comfortable everyone's fears would be assuaged."I believe we're all on the same page here," he said. "We all want to do what's right for Milton."
The roughly 2½-hour meeting focused on Fulton County's sewer service in Milton and included a litany of public comment from both sides of the fence. Each council member had five minutes to ask Riley, who was aided at times by Fulton's Public Works staff, questions about the county's sewer service delivery strategy and the rationale behind discrepancies between several documents important to zoning decisions involving sewer hook ups.
Those documents include the 2006 "no inter basin transfer" sewer policy aimed at stunting sewer expansion in the Etowah basin, in which a good portion of Milton falls, and the 2006 intergovernmental agreement (IGA) entered into by the city and Fulton County for sewer service. The question of whether sewer should be extended to number of Milton's now developing land lots were left unresolved in the two documents, according to council and city attorneys Ken Jarrard and Angie Davis.Those discrepancies have left the city in a lurch, and many zoning decisions along Ga. 9 have stalled in the past few months because no consensus could be found. The plan now is to continue working together until either a new IGA can be hammered out or the old one fully agreed upon. There is no publicly set time line for the process.The meeting at times got tense, but through council's questions, a number of important points emerged:
Fulton County believes the 2006 sewer service delivery strategy map given to Milton with the IGA does not violate its own no inter basin transfer policy. Prior to the meeting, citizens were concerned certain lots that were allowed sewer on the map might have service illegally according to the other policy document.
** Granting sewer to those lots not designated for sewer service in Fulton's 2006 service delivery map would constitute an unwanted "extension of sewer." However, granting sewer to the lots designated for service by Fulton County would not be expanding the lines.
** A property might have a sewer line running underneath it, but not be entitled to sewer according to the map. "The physical line is a vehicle for sewer service," said Jarrard. "But your policy is what counts."** Certain lots may be split in their ability to receive sewer.
** The city's and county's policies prohibiting sewer service to a lot that has a line under it trump state health codes saying buildings within a certain footage of a sewer line have to hook up.
** City Council will submit to Fulton County a complete list of land lots that might fall into a sewer "grey area." Fulton's Public Works staff will guide Milton on which of those lots indeed could be sewered, taking guess work out of the process.
** The smallest sewer line Fulton could service is eight inches in diameter. Such a pipe would serve a maximum of 1,000 houses.** A pump station to carry waste could only be built on a wholly owned lot that is already partially gravity serviced. Also, that gravity service must occur naturally — nothing can be built up to induce gravity service.