The court-ordered mediation between Barrow County and its municipalities over two unresolved service-delivery areas will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, Bethlehem mayor Sandy McNab told the town council during its meeting Monday, Oct. 7.
“It’s all going to be settled that day, one way or the other,” McNab said.
The informal, private meeting will be held at the Georgia Club in Statham, and a quorum from each elected body is required to attend, an attorney from the law firm that represents the town told the council.
The county and the municipalities failed to reach a state-required updated service-delivery strategy (SDS) agreement when the previous agreement expired in October 2018 and then missed an extended deadline in February to agree on all service areas. After three voluntary mediation sessions that lasted a total of 30 hours, the parties have still yet to reach an agreement on water utility service and road maintenance, with water utility service — specifically rates charged to customers inside and outside the Winder city limits — being the major sticking point.
As a result of their failure to reach an agreement, the local governments had sanctions placed on them that made them ineligible for any state-administered grants, loans, permits or financial assistance.
A judge, though, ordered a stay on those sanctions pending the mandatory mediation. Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Norman Fletcher is the court-appointed mediator.
Whatever the parties agree to on Nov. 5 will be brought to each full elected body for approval.
In other business Monday, the Bethlehem council:
•heard from McNab that Harrison Mill Properties, LLC, plans to submit a petition for 49 acres at 788 Harrison Mill Rd. to be annexed into the town with agricultural zoning. Tommy Hunter, representing Harrison Mill Properties, initially appeared before the council in August and said he planned to build a single-family residential development with a target of 1.2 units per acre and wanted to get the property rezoned. However, county officials and the county board of commissioners expressed some concerns over that request in a meeting later in August, including that the property currently sits in the county’s innovation corridor on the future land-use map. If Harrison Mill Properties submits the petition, the county would have 30 days from then to raise any objections. If the property were annexed into the town, the town would have to wait a year to approve a rezoning.
•approved the trimming of around 20 trees on David Avenue by Harrison Poultry. The company selected will do the work for $200 an hour up to three hours.