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City considering fee for flood prevention

POSTED: February 6, 2007 5:05 a.m.
By Joe Parker Jr.
Coastal Courier (Hinesville, GA) Correspondent
jparkerjr@coastalcourier.com

Hinesville City Council this week discussed a proposed stormwater utility that will bring residents and businesses a monthly bill of $4-5.
The council also selected a “poster boy” of sorts to help them sell the idea.
Joe Scott of North Maple Street attended Thursday's council meeting to ask for an update on the city's plans for a drainage ditch at the rear of his property he said is eroding.
Scott noted the ditch needs to be piped, “like what you did for the country club.”
Mayor Pro Tempore David Anderson called for some short-term action to help Scott and Councilman Charles Frazier said, “We've been looking at that for many years now.”

Officials soon determined a solution for the storm water ditch was neither easy nor cheap.
Engineer Paul Simonton said that while there was some sloughing along the ditch, it was limited to the right-of-way and had not encroached on adjoining private property.
He said some of Scott's neighbors might not realize where the property lines are because they have put buildings and wells on the ditch right-of-way,
Simonton noted he knew of no interim measure that would not cause other problems.
A quick fix, he said, “would cost $2 or $300,000 and would not satisfy anyone along that ditch.”
City Manager Billy Edwards said Scott's problem and similar issues would be solved by Hinesville's proposed stormwater utility that has been studied by consultants and could be implemented by June after a public education campaign.
Perhaps with an eye on the public education need, Mayor Tom Ratcliffe told Scott, “We want to use you as our poster boy.”
The mayor meant, he said, the city was trying to solve drainage problems but to do so would need to find a way to pay for the work.
“We want to know if you, Mr. Scott, will be willing to pay your share of this cost,” and if you will help explain this to you neighbors who will be asked to pay.”
After some questions, Scott agreed.
Scott said he had spoken with County Commission Chairman John McIver and he believed the county would be willing to pay part of the cost of drainage projects.
Hinesville officials welcomed this, and Edwards said he had just received an email from County Administrator Joey Brown regarding a meeting at which they could discuss such cooperation.
After receiving assurances the storm-water fee would be paid be everyone — “The Walmart man will pay too,” as Ratcliffe phrased it — Scott agreed to the poster boy role.
The next hurdle was access to ditches needing to be cleaned out or piped or paved.
Ratcliffe said the city's equipment for ditch-cleaning can enter the right-of-way at a single point, work along the length of the ditch and exit at a single point — causing relatively little impact to the property along the ditch.
“This is not the same level of access a contractor will need,” Simonton said. “He will be making multiple trips every days with all kinds of equipment.”
“It will make a mess,” Ratcliffe said. “We will clean it up, but it will be a mess while it is going on. Plenty of your neighbors, Mr. Scott, are not going to be happy during this time.”
Scott agreed to help explain this to his neighbors, to offer access through his property and to urge others to help with access.
Simonton was asked to proceed with stormwater-system design so there would be no unnecessary delay when the utility was set up, and council members were given paper copies of the feasibility study to read in preparation for further action.
Ratcliffe, Edwards and several council members told Scott his canal was listed as the top priority for the proposed stormwater utility.
 
 

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