A large group of Pendergrass area property owners want the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority to help them stop what could be a large residential project in the city.
At issue is a tract of 322 acres on Old State Rd. that has been targeted for residential development and annexation into the Pendergrass city limits.
Although one developer has withdrawn plans to do a project on the property, other developers may be looking to revive the idea.
At its June 11 meeting, the water authority heard from several nearby residents of the 322-acre site who want the authority to help them kill those plans. Pendergrass does not have its own water system, so the project would depend on county water and sewerage services.
Speaking on behalf of a large group of property owners, Donald Roberts said the property is surrounded by cattle and poultry farms as well as Wayne Farms, a large poultry processing plant.
“This type of high density on this tract of land and future tracts shouldn’t even be in consideration by the City of Pendergrass or Jackson County,” Roberts said. “Our Jackson County School System will be overwhelmed and our children’s education will suffer.”
Roberts said it is his understanding the county has no control on annexations.
“So even though this is a development that the county would not approve and does not fall within the Jackson County development codes, Jackson County planning and zoning along with the county commissioners will have no power to regulate this development,” he said. “The only county board that has the power to regulate this development is the water and sewer authority.”
David Lathem, owner of Lathem Farms, pointed out the stress this type development would put on the sewer system.
“Jackson County is an extremely fast-growing county, so when considering where to use that commodity, is it best to go into a place that is intense agriculture,” said Lathem.
Authority manager Eric Klerk said the only recourse the authority would have when presented with a request for service by such a development is to ensure the developer adheres to the authority’s standards and specifications.
In other business, the board
• heard a request from James Patrick for consideration of fees assessed against his rental property. Mr. Patrick is in the process of evicting the tenant, but due to issues associated with the coronavirus causing closure of the courts, Mr. Patrick has been unable to file necessary papers to complete the eviction process. The tenant has broken a lock placed on the meter by the authority and later straight-piped to the meter, causing the authority to assess penalties against the property in the amount of $7,500. The board agreed to reduce the amount due to $2,000 to recover costs incurred by the authority, which Mr. Patrick has agreed to pay.
• approved a water agreement with the city of Arcade. Arcade agrees to purchase water from the authority at $4.50 per thousand gallons for up to 100,000 gallons per day.
• approved an agreement to purchase water from Barrow County. The authority provides water to homes within a specific area in the vicinity of the Bear Creek Reservoir and at the time of construction service was connected to the Barrow County system. The authority is in the process of evaluation options to run a line to connect those houses to the authority system.
• received the audit report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2019.
• approved reallocation of $20,000 previously earmarked for software program upgrades to a project to continue exploration for a proposed Mulberry wastewater treatment plant.
• agreed to abandon a water line easement in Pendergrass. The easement was along Wendell Gee Road and was previously used to provide water to trailers that have since been removed. The property is now being developed into a single family residential development and the easement is no longer necessary since water and sewer lines have been installed by the developer.
• voted to extend the contract for services with authority manager Eric Klerk through the year 2023.