Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bitter Issue: Milton Council Agrees To Extend Sewer Lines

Vote was 4-3 in highly controversial decision; some fear sewer system will end pastoral flavor of area


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A bitterly divided Milton City Council on Monday finally put to rest an issue that has bedeviled the community since its inception — a sewer policy.

The council voted 4-3 to adopt a map and agreement with Fulton County defining where county sewer could go. In many communities, extending sewer is a routine activity. In Milton, it’s been grounds for political combat, leading to the defeat of two incumbents last November, and contributing to the resignation of the city manager after only five months on the job.

North Fulton County news Milton residents treasure their tree-lined lanes, pastoral vistas and other rural characteristics, and they fear development, especially dense development, will ruin that. Many believe that sewer is an engine for density, and they favor limiting sewer as a way to control growth.

But others argue that density can be controlled through zoning, that sewer in some areas is reasonable, and the city needs the tax revenue from commercial projects.

After three hours of sometimes testy debate, Council member Karen Thurman moved to approve the map and agreement, hammered out by the city attorney and staff. Councilman Bill Lusk seconded. They were joined by Mayor Joe Lockwood and Councilman Burt Hewitt. Opposing the motion were Council members Julie Zahner Bailey, Tina D’Aversa and Alan Tart.

“It’s a landmark,” Lusk said. “We can remove this political football that’s been use and abused and maintain the character of the area that everyone wants, and get on the more important things of running this city. Now we can enforce sewer service and move on.”

The minority vigorously objected to voting Monday night, arguing they hadn’t seen the map until Friday, the agreement until Sunday, and the public hadn’t seen them at all. They lobbied for a work session next week so the details of the map and agreement could be fully vetted.

But Lockwood countered that after months of discussion it was time to make a decision.

The council’s decision establishes borders for sewer to go along Ga. 9 and in some spots in the Crabapple area.

The two sides could not agree on what defined “sewer extension,” the equivalent in Milton political parlance to a curse word. For the minority, sewer extension was defined as providing sewer to any new parcels. For the majority, extension was defined as running it beyond the defined service area.

City Council chambers initially was packed with about 100 people, including some from neighboring jurisdictions who came to watch the climatic showdown. About 20 residents and business owners spoke at the meeting. Although in the past, most speakers have been anti-sewer, on Monday those addressing the council were more evenly divided.

D’Aversa said after the meeting that by approving sewer extension, the City Council had established a dangerous precedent that could haunt the city later.

Zahner Bailey said that some on the council forgot earlier promises to voters.

“You just witnessed four people who claimed to not to support sewer extension vote to extend sewer,” she said. “Sewer equals density.”


Anonymous said...

WHOO HOO!! Now the City can FINALLY move forward and address other issues that are also important in Miltonville! Smart growth is so much wiser than scare tactics. Milton does have a great staff who does have the City's best interest at heart and leadership needs to listen to them more. I only wish this had come to pass before Billy felt he had to resign. I would hope he would reconsider now that the Mayor has finally taken control of the Council. Joe, you showed true leadership last night and we can only hope this is the beginning of true change for the City's council! Way to go Mayor Lockwood!
Whew... let's all take a deep breath and be glad this chapter is behind us.

Anonymous said...

X 2

Anonymous said...

About time.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's about time the four of you showed beyond a doubt where you stand.

Anonymous said...

To "yes, its about time the four of you showed beyond a doubt where you stand..." I believe they did last night. They showed they were willing to make the tough decisions, with Mayor Lockwood truly leading, and decided, beyond a doubt" to move this City forward into the wonderful future instead of continuing to stay entrenched in sewerville. They chose smart growth... clearly they showed where they stand. Stop beating the dead horse... let it lie already.

Anonymous said...

The tough decision would have been to honor their campaign promises and not fall to pressure or personal agendas.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes once you get elected and you see the real issues that a city or county or even a state have to deal with and the true facts just might be different than what you campaigned on. All politicians want to give positive presentations, but once you're elected, it takes a real leader to make the tough decisions... especially if they go against what you campaigned for. All things are not just black and white and you do not see that until you get into office. When all this dust settles and the city's new plan actually is put into place, everyone will have an "aha!" moment and see that dealing with this issue with smart growth was not such a bad decision after all.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely...

And I'm tired of the e-mails from council members and the BHA that just muddy the waters...

Hello people, anyone home? Try sending e-mails in English and make it so it's understandable.

-Travis Allen

Anonymous said...

Don't measure youself by the problems you faced, but the problems you've faced up to.

Miltonville said...

I must let you know that I did not write the very first comment posted here. Even though some of my friends in Milton were certain I did and called me to ask.

I really do love Milton. The People. The Place. And all those who understand the concept of Miltonville. (And even those that don't, mush-mush.)

Be Good, Always and All Ways...

Anonymous said...

It sure was good. We hped you did?

Anonymous said...

Good to see consistency, that at all levels of politics, financial gain is what makes people shy away from campaign promises, and do what is right for themselves and not the community. Transparent government my A--.

Way to go Mayor. You have let down many who supported you.

Anonymous said...

And many people he supported let him down and ran off the best city manager we could hope for.

Way to "cowboy up" Joe to the situation.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, developer buddies or citizens. Which way should I vote, ....Developer buddies. The End.

Anonymous said...

It's really interesting that editorials, internet article comments, blogs etc...never present the mainstream view on issues. It's Black or White, Left or Right - never what most people are thinking.

I'll take a stab. I'm not a developer, a developer lover, a wealthy land owner, or a large tract land owner. I am a below average home price home-owner here in Milton.

I attended the last city council meeting and here was my take on the decision.

The council simply chose to end the debate and move on to the items that really matter now in this city. 3 took a bit more of a hard line and can hold their heads up in the face of their voters, and 4 took a bit less of a hard line and accepted what the city staff presented - and they too can stand tall as this plan is not all that bad.

So now - a handful of peripheral parcels of land may or may not get sewer, we might manage to keep the remaining city staff on the payroll for a bit longer - and the vast majority of us will never be crowded out by density as a result.

I don't know how many of you have seen the new budget - but we don't have alot of money! The extra $$'s some commercial property - properly placed on the outskirts of the city - could be a big boost.

Like some previous posters mentioned - being in politics is all about promoting the ideas that got you elected to the best of your ability, winning where you can, taking loses in stride, and moving on to the next issue. I personally feel that the council acted in the majorities best interest by accepting what some hard working city staffers where paid to do - simple as that.

They didnt do it to puposely extend sewer or bow to some special interests - they hit on a compromise solution.

If you read some of these posts -the city of Milton has instantly become Sandy Springs! That is not true and most of us know that.

Let's get on with new issues like the new high school that will gum up my morning drive :-)

Anonymous said...

to K. Haase... I wrote the first blog on here and you took it to the next level. Great statements that hit the nail right on the head! Thanks for expounding and saying it in a way that everyone can (or should) understand.

Anonymous said...

"Developer Buddies or citizens"..........hmmmm.

Bill Bailey get your butt home right now and take this dog for a ride!


Hey? Don't you have some "developer buddies" that you do work for?

Anonymous said...

Miss Daisy here, "Bill has not been driving me around much lately! Been on that stupid computor all day and night saying bad things about the city?"

I am thinking if he gets a job then he might be a nicer fellow?