Fannin County Water Authority looks to expand services

Community, News

The Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) discussed expansion of their utility services to include the Lake Cove development area. This topic was thoroughly evaluated by board members and consultants at the regular monthly meeting of FCWA held on Aug. 15.

Kurt McCord, Project Engineer with Carter and Sloope, Inc., ran initial fire flow testing for this project on July 27. It was determined from these tests that there is currently enough water pressure on existing lines to adequately supply water in the event of an emergency.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Water Authority, Lake Cove, Rocky Point, Morganton, Expansion, Service Area, Chairwoman, Anita Weaver, Board Member, Angie Arp, Carter and Sloope, Kurt McCord, Project Engineer

FCWA looks to expand service areas and plans for possible future demand.

“When you look at size and lines, you look at two things,” McCord said explaining his findings and offering recommendations to the board. “You look at one, just normal domestic use, and then you look at fire flow.”

McCord explained that in an area such as Lake Cove and Rocky Point that there is not enough development to base the size of the pipes on domestic use, and that the FCWA must look to fire flow to determine the appropriate specifications to move forward.

While the expansion to the Lake Cove area could take place in the foreseeable future, McCord pointed out that now would be the time to go ahead and plan for the possibility of expansion to the Rocky Point area as well.

To be able to expand to Rocky Point, the board would need to plan on installing an 8 inch pipe, rather than the 6 inch pipe needed to just supply Lake Cove. By going ahead with larger capacity piping the FCWA would only have to pay a difference in material costs.

McCord said by being preemptive in this matter, it would cut future costs and added, “If there was more development, these lines would be able to handle that.”

Showing concern of residents following through with water hookup and services, Board Member Angie Arp questioned the limited security a signed letter of intent and inquired about recieving a upfront deposit.

After a brief discussion and careful thought, the board decided that residents wishing to have county water lines run to their area would need to sign a letter of intent and pay a $125.00 fee. This one time fee is per lot where a tap will be placed.

The fee, however, will be deducted from the overall cost to the consumer for water hookup once construction is completed.

The board agreed that there needs be at least 20 residents express interest in the Lake Cove area before the project begins. Estimates for the total number of customers this line will accommodate currently exceeds the minimum requirement of 20.

“This is the kind of project SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) was designed for,” FCWA Chairwoman Anita Weaver stated.

FCWA voted unanimously to move forward with finding the level of interest in the area for this extended line. Surveying and permitting will be the first phase of the project and could take approximately 6 months to complete.

Once surveying and permitting is done, construction can begin.

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

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City boards restructuring draws criticism

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – An ordinance to restructure the city’s Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals was approved by the Blue Ridge City Council during its May 8 meeting Tuesday.

Last month, a first reading of the ordinance was presented during the council meeting. As explained then by City Attorney James Balli, the ordinance would condense both the Zoning Board of Appeals and the city Planning Commission from seven members to five members each. Balli further explained each city council member would appoint one member to serve on each board and appointees would be allowed to serve on both boards, if the council member so desired. According to Balli, the ordinance would amend an already established city ordinance to be compliant with the City Charter and state law.

After a second reading this month, the ordinance was approved unanimously. According to Balli, the council’s appointments are Gene Holcombe to serve as Councilwoman Robbie Cornelius’ appointment to both the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, Cindy Trimble to serve as Councilwoman Rhonda Haight’s appointment on both boards, Mark Engledow and Angelina Powell to serve as Councilman Harold Herndon’s appointments to the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, respectively, Rick Skelton to serve as Councilman Nathan Fitts’ appointment to both boards, and Thomas Kay and Michael Eaton to serve as Councilman Ken Gaddis’ appointments to the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, respectively.

At the end of the meeting, Eaton, existing chairman of city Zoning Board of Appeals, spoke to the council concerning the changes to the two boards.

“What I have a problem with is we’ve basically eliminated three positions on the Zoning Board of Appeals tonight for three different people who have put in a lot of time and effort for their part and were not contacted or told any of this was going to happen,” Eaton stated.

“John Soave, Ralph Garner, Brendan Doyle – when are their terms up?” Eaton asked.

To this, Mayor Donna Whitener responded, “Their terms are up as of today.”

“I feel like we’ve all been left in the dark. This has been done very disrespectfully,” Eaton added, saying he was only contacted by Gaddis who notified Eaton he would be the councilman’s appointment. “I think it’s been done very poorly.”

A second reading for an Illumination Ordinance amendment was also presented and approved at this month’s meeting. The ordinance, according to its wording, makes it “unlawful for any person, organization of persons, or entity to willfully tamper with, illegally project light upon, mutilate or deface any City personal or real property, including, without limitation, trees, other plants, buildings, drive-in theaters screens, vehicles or other equipment for lighting, firefighting, police protection or water and sewer installation and maintenance.” First-time violators of the ordinance now face a civil fine of at least $500 and subsequent violations are punishable by a civil fine of at least $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

An amendment to change the rules of procedure at council meetings to allow for more public commentary on action items was approved unanimously by the council. As explained by Balli, the amendment will now allow five sections of public commentary at two minutes per person on a first come, first serve basis for any item requiring a vote from the council. Following the end of the public commentary, the council would then vote on the item. The amendment also allows for individuals to speak on any late additions to the agenda without having to request ahead of time to be on the agenda to speak themselves.

Jeff Stewart, city zoning supervisor, presented bids and estimates for repairs to the roof at City Hall. The council unanimously approved and awarded two bids: one from GoCo for $6,650 for the demolition and removal of the bank drive-through and another from Trademark Coatings for $35,427.50 for the repair of the main roof of the building. According to Trademark’s estimate and scope of work, the cost will include pressure washing and reuse of the existing shingles, which were deemed to still be in good condition, and application of a urethane foam base coat, which is designed to create a seamless roofing system.

The city received $20,165.00 in insurance claims for damage sustained to city hall during a storm in the spring of 2017.

The council unanimously approved an allotment of up to $10,000 for remodel of the city police department building on Church Street. In February, the council approved a previous amount up to $10,000 for needed repairs and renovation of the police department. Mayor Whitener explained after initial work to the building began, further problems and issues were also revealed, but she anticipated that the further work should cost under the additional $10,000.

Police Chief Johnny Scearce stated further repairs and upgrades to the building, built in 1936, will include repairs to a corner of the roof, replacement of gutters and fascia boards, and upgrades to the lights and electrical wiring system. “One thing led into another,” Chief Scearce said of the building renovation.

Replacement of the slide deck at the city pool was discussed after the city received a quote from Miracle Recreation Equipment Company in the amount of $6,009.86 to replace the slide. Councilwoman Rhonda Haight questioned the decision to replace the slide considering the uncertain future of the city pool and potential liability issues with the slide.

“Considering we don’t really know the future of the pool, do we just take it down for right now or spend $6,000?” Haight said. “I would suggest just take the slide out, (because) first of all, (it is) a liability, and second, because we don’t know (the pool’s) future.”

Whitener stated parts to repair the pool thus far for the upcoming season have amounted to under $5,000, which was considerably less than originally anticipated. The mayor seemly advocated for the replacement of the slide stating the slide is heavily used by children at the pool and removal of the slide would require additional concrete work.

“Well, I would have to agree with Rhonda,” Councilman Nathan Fitts said. “To keep spending money with the unknown future of the pool, to me, doesn’t make financial sense.”

After further discussion, the council approved for the slide to be taken down.

In public commentary, Gene Holcombe spoke on behalf of the Blue Ridge Business Association and inquired of the city’s progress with adding downtown public restrooms and parking space. Mayor Whitener told Holcombe Councilman Herndon had recently suggested the idea of building a small restroom unit near the large public parking lot off of Mountain Street as early as this summer using detainee labor and engineering assistance from Councilman Gaddis’ All Choice Plumbing company. As for the parking situation, Whitener told Holcombe the parking study, which was approved in the council’s April meeting, was still in the process of being completed.

After an executive session, Councilwoman Haight made a motion to “resolve a claim involving 0.03 acres with Campbell Camp Investments LLC and to give the mayor authority to sign a quick claim for that property.” After a second from Gaddis, the motion passed unanimously.

The council approved three invoices from the city’s water system engineering firm, Carter & Sloope:

  • In the amount of $13,092.50 for various engineering services, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) permitting for water line work on state Route 515 near BB&T bank and on state Route 60 in Mineral Bluff and plan reviews of the Fannin County Agriculture and Public Safety Complex buildings;
  • In the amount of $11,639.10 for continued monitoring of metals and temperature at the city’s wastewater treatment facility; and
  • In the amount of $11,363.75 for providing preliminary cost estimates to GDOT for proposed utility relocation along state Route 5 as part of the forthcoming highway expansion.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Fannin County Water Authority evaluates customer rates

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Projects continue to make progress as the Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) expands its service area. Two such projects, Dry Branch Road and Blue Bird Road, have been in the works for several months now, and the board received updates on both.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Water Authority, Carter and Sloope, Kurt McCord, Larry Chapman, Anita Weaver, David Falls, Kay Kendall, Water Rates, Residential, Commercial

Blue Bird Road project moves towards completion.

Kurt McCord, a project engineer with Carter & Sloope, Inc., informed the FCWA board that plans for the Dry Branch Road expansion are complete and that all approvals needed for the continuation of Blue Bird Road have been granted. McCord says that the Blue Bird Road project could possibly be complete in two months.

With this expansion comes the need to discuss rates for water customers. FCWA continues to grow and McCord presented the board with recommendations for pricing to its customers.

“We basically looked, really at the neighboring systems, kind of around us, ” McCord said, explaining how the pricing recommendations came about.
By comparing rates of the city of Blairsville, city of Blue Ridge (inside), city of Blue Ridge (outside), Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewer, city of McCaysville, and the city of Morganton, Carter & Sloope came up with a set of prices for FCWA customers.

Fannin County poses a unique set of difficulties when pricing water rates in that many of the homes in the county  are second homes or rental properties, leading to less water use on average than that of full-time residents.

“I think it was wise at the time to adopt a higher base rate,” McCord explained of the proposed numbers, “because I think we have come to find out that they (part-time residents) may only be using 2,500 to 3,000 gallons a month.”

FCWA board member David Falls explained that the rates need to be enough to cover maintenance, employee’s salary, and any other costs associated with providing water to Fannin County residents.

Discussion arose about industry specific pricing. FCWA Vice Chairman Larry Chapman brought this issue to the board’s attention: “If we have chicken houses or something like that, we are going to have to look at a guaranteed minimum usage on something like that.”

Chapman cited that industries such as the chicken houses would likely use county water as a backup system.

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss explained that commercial rates could be broken up into different categories of industry and could also be examined on a case-by-case basis.

“You set the base lines. Then you have to negotiate certain things,” Doss described of providing water for commercial use on a case-by-case basis, “especially while you’re still in the mode of expanding your lines, your overall services.”

Board Member Kay Kendall asked if impact fees were being set aside into a separate account, and suggested that if not, these fees could be put into a separate account for capital improvements.

“Just set aside so that we would know that that is our building fund,” Kendall explained of the need. “Put them in a separate capital improvement account with the idea that in an emergency situation, we could use for operations, but it would require authority approval.”

The board unanimously voted to open a new account for impact fees, with the understanding that the board could approve to use these funds in another area if an emergency need arises.

Chapman suggested a small impact fee be added to residential service. The board unanimously approved these impact fees on residential. The new impact fees would include $25 on 3/4-inch residential water line and $50 for one-inch residential water line.

The board approved the recommendations for water rates in Fannin County with the added impacts fees. Commercial pricing will mimic irrigation pricing.

The board will re-evaluate rates on an annual basis.

 

Monthly Billing:
$38.00 monthly charge (does not include any water)
$5.00 per 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons
$7.00 per 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons

Tap Fee:
For 3/4″ Residential Water Line:
Tap Fee: $1,465.00
Impact Fee: $25.00
Deposit: $125.00
Admn. Charge: $35.00
TOTAL: $1,650.00

For 1″ Residential Water Line:
Tap Fee: $1,890.00
Impact Fee: $50.00
Deposit: $200.00
Admin. Charge: $35.00
TOTAL: $2,175.00

Other Fees:
Late Fee: $15.00
Returned Check: $30.00
Disconnection: $50.00
Reconnection: $75.00
After hrs. Restore Service $100.00
Meter Tampering: $150.00
Admin. Fee: $35.00
Hydrant Meter/Bulk Water Purchase:
Deposit: $750.00
Monthly Rental: $50.00
Water Usage: $5.00 / 1,000 gallons

Irrigation:
$38.00 monthly (no water included)
$6.00 / 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons
$8.00 / 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

County Closer to Water Deal with Morganton, Moves Ahead with My Mountain Project

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Fannin County Water Authority Chairman Mike Queen announced this week that the county has reached a verbal agreement with the city of Morganton to purchase water. (more…)

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Are My Mountain Water Chances Drying Up?

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After a drawn-out struggle, My Mountain Community may soon see the end to its efforts to gain county water. (more…)

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