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1-20-07 Oconee Commissioners seem determined to incur big and lasting debt for Fast Growth

COF, Inc. - ..it was their impression the County is set on a course to lock us into one of the grossly expensive proposals presented by the consultants.

AVOC

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January 20, 2007

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Oconee Commissioners seem determined to incur big and lasting debt for Growth

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

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Oconee citizens concerned about Oconee’s Fast Growth and Sprawling rezones should read Charlie Baugh, Lee Becker and Gary Noffke concerning the recent Commissioners’ “Public Meeting” on Water Needs.

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One can also access the Links referenced below to understand better how we got to this point under the current county leadership.Now is the time to say SLOW DOWN!!!

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COF, Inc.- Oconee Water Meeting & Debt issues

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Citizens for Oconee's Future, Inc.
P. O. Box 1301
Watkinsville, GA 30677

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http://www.oconeesfuture.com/index.html

OconeesFuture@aol.com

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January 20, 2007

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Oconee Water Meeting & Debt issues

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By Charles Baugh, President

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Citizens

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Thanks to all of you who took the time to attend the Water Meeting by the County on the 17th.  I know it is difficult to make these meetings.In fact I was unable to attend this one due to a medical problem. 

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I have spoken to several people who attended the meeting and it was their impression the County is set on a course to lock us into one of the grossly expensive proposals presented by the consultants.  Consultants who, by the way, get paid more when more dollars are in play and larger projects are proposed.  Both proposals are estimated by these consultants to be in excess of $00,000,000.  Don't believe those numbers.  Based on experience of others who have built reservoirs in the past 10 years the initial estimates are much too low.Also remember the more the cost the more water must be processed and sold resulting in more building permits etc. 

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Following is a short summary of the meeting provided by Lee Becker, Friends of Barber Creek.  My thanks to Lee and his organization for continuing to be involved and concerned about county issues that impact the entire county as well as his neighborhood.  I am hopeful that other organizations such as the neighborhood associations that represent subdivisions will become more involved in county wide issues.

 


1-19-07 BECKER on Oconee Water Meeting on 1-17-07

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Friends of Barber Creek

1031 Willow Ridge
Athens, GA  30606

www.barbercreek.org

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January 18, 2007

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Notes on Oconee January 17, 2007 Water Meeting

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By Lee Becker, President

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Dear Friends,

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About 60 people attended the meeting last night to learn more about the County’s plans for water treatment. The County did a nice job of allowing questions, and there were many. The meeting lasted about two hours.

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What is clear is that the County at present plans to pick between two expensive, large projects, one in Walton County and the other in Oconee. Other options were acknowledged but dismissed as not suitable by the two consultants who spoke, William Martello of Jordan Jones & Goulding and Jimmy Parker of Precision Planning.

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This is not much of a surprise. Martello developed the Oconee project; Parker is involved with the Walton project.

Costs are more than $ 100 million in both cases.

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County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis said the County is going to decide in the next month or two what it wants to do.

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Davis, Martello and Parker argued that the County is going to run out of water soon. The data to support that were sketchy. At one point, Wayne Provost, the director of strategic and long-range planning for the County, said the County had never linked those projections to land use plans. He acknowledged that the current plans do not even call for water services to be provided throughout the County.

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Martello said he was using the high projections for population growth and acknowledged that the County has not been growing at the rate to match these projections. He said he did not want to be conservative.

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Several of us asked why the County has not considered integrating its sewage treatment and water treatment plants, since they use the same basic technology to treat water and the County has been arguing that the product of its existing and proposed sewage plants is "near drinking level quality."

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We had to ask the question several times. Finally, the answer was that the County officials and consultants do not believe the people of this County are smart enough to understand that one way or the other we are reusing water and will be doing so in the future.

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Residents of the County will be willing to drink the treated sewage water from other counties (such as Clarke County, which is upstream of the planned Barnett Shoals reservoir), but they will not be willing to drink their own treated sewage water, we were told.

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The irony is that, if either of these reservoirs is built, and if the County expands the Rocky Branch sewage treatment plant as it proposes, dumping treated sewage water into both Barber Creek and the Apalachee, we would be drinking our own sewage water regardless of which of the two proposed reservoir we would draw from.

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Perhaps the biggest unanswered, but repeatedly asked, question of the night was: How is the County going to pay for either of these reservoirs?

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The answer, we were told, has not yet been developed.

Lee Becker

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lbbecker@mindspring.com

http://www.barbercreek.org./barbercreek/default.asp

http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/ 


1-19-07 Athens Banner-Herald Report on Oconee Jan 17 Water Meeting

The Athens Banner-Herald

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/011907/news_20070119030.shtml

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January 19, 2007

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Time running down on reservoir decision - Oconee County

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By Lee Shearer

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WATKINSVILLE - The Oconee County Commission could decide within a month whether to join Walton County in a $53 million reservoir and water treatment project, according to commission Chairman Melvin Davis.

"Hopefully within the next month, or the next two months, anyway," Davis told residents who packed a public information meeting about the county's future water needs Wednesday night.

That's because the Walton County Commission is set to authorize bonds for the project by March, he said.

Until last summer, Oconee officials had planned to join Walton County on the project, which would create a reservoir on Hard Labor Creek in Walton County.

But commissioners backed off while they studied other ways to meet the county's future water needs.

Now, Walton County officials are ready to go forward alone with the project, said Jimmy Parker, a water consultant working for the Walton government.

Bill Martello of Jordan Jones & Goulding, Oconee County's water consultant, said the county could face a shortfall of nearly 5 million gallons of water a day by 2020…….


AVOC NOTE:

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Mr. Martello did preliminary work (late 80’s and early 90’s) on the Upper Oconee Water Basin Study that led to the Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County.   Population projections, need and environmental impact were all reviewed.

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Sources have advised AVOC that the Georgia EPD has not yet granted a Withdrawal Permit to Walton County for the Hard Labor Creek Project and they have 12 pages of conditions on their 404 Permit.

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There are other alternatives being considered by Monroe and Loganville as well as the Snapping Shoals project by others.

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Walton’s Hard Labor Creek project is not a “done deal” and the cost estimates now being used are “front end reduced”.   More costs will become more apparent later.

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1-20-07 Oconee Water Meeting Comments -Noffke

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From: Gary Noffke

Date: January 20, 2007 12:26:22 PM EST

To: Melvin Davis <mdavis@oconee.ga.us>

Subject: County Water Meeting

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Dear Mr Davis,

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I assume you get some of these up-dates sent out by groups of citizens concerned with fast growth and improper planning in Oconee County. These notes I'm forwarding so that you and the other commissioners are aware there are many active and responsible citizens in the county that expect due process and responsible decisions in regard to future growth in the county. Faster and bigger usually creates bigger problems faster. Please concern yourselves with the idea of better. Locking the county onto the current fast track through creative financing may be your idea of progress, but it is not shared by a consensus of tax paying, voting citizens.

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I propose a thorough study of current sewer and water needs for the county to be an option to your plans for 20 more years of rapid growth. There are state agencies that can accomplish this study without the expense of hiring private consultants with private interests. Then let the citizens vote. Your recent idea to appoint members from the incorporated towns to a committee to create a new county land use plan excludes unincorporated areas that will be mostly affected. Why would the county commissioners propose such a plan?

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Why not let the people elect their members to the committee? Are you afraid you'll get another land use plan that you'll have to ignore like the last one? Better yet, why not pay attention to the current picture on the wall? The current 'future' land use plan extends to the year 2022. Are you proposing a future, 'future' plan? Please remember you were elected to four years of office, not forty years.

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Sincerely,

Gary Noffke


FOR BACKGROUND AND HISTORY, SEE:

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MPD’s approved in 2003 started the “run” on water and sewer resources in Oconee County

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LINKS:

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12-21-03 Oconee BOC Approves Large Numbers of Dense Development Residential Units in 2003

2-3-04 Residential Units Increasing In Oconee County

3-30-04 Oconee Sewer Capacity --Anybody Counting?

4-09-04 Oconee County MPD Ordinances Were "Hatched and Birthed” in Secrecy

4-16-04 Charts & Graphs Tell Troubling Story About Oconee County

7-9-04 Oconee Studying and Postponing Many Projects and Problems -- Part 1

8-25-04 Does Oconee Have New Master Plan?

9-2-04 Oconee to Review Fast Growth Policies

9-23-04 Oconee To Make Fast Growth Mistake Worse Than MPDs?

11-8-04 Oconee County Zoning and Other Pending Matters

12-20-04 Oconee's Behind the Scenes "Wheeling & Dealing"

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http://www.oconeecounty.com/OCGIS/OtherPDFs/Residential%20Report.PDF

http://www.oconeecounty.com/Government/Planning/Maps/Oconee%20County%20Sewer%20Collection.pdf

http://www.oconeecounty.com/Government/Planning/Maps/Oconee%20County%20Water%20Lines.pdf

http://www.oconeecounty.com/Government/Planning/Maps/Subdivisions%202003.pdf


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