PTC wants to sewer old neighborhood; Hippocket residents balk at $12K fee

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 5:04pm
By: John Munford

Bonnie Buchanan has lived in one of Peachtree City’s oldest neighborhoods since 1985, off Hippocket Road.

In all that time she’s never had a problem with her private septic system, and neither have her neighbors. So she doesn’t understand why city officials are advocating a program to hook up about 80 homes west of Lake Peachtree, including hers, to the city sewer system at an estimated cost of $12,000 per home.

City Manager Bernie McMullen said Tuesday that the proposal from the city is trying to head off potential problems in the future, as 25 lots have either had a leach field or drain line replaced for the septic systems in the past 18 years.

A number of homes in the area may also develop septic problems as they are sold by their long-time owners with one or two occupants to families with children, which would increase the water use and potential for septic problems, McMullen said.

One home in the area that recently had a septic system failure had to build a separate pump and pipe system to link up to the city’s sewer system, McMullen said. Such solutions can cost $30,000 or more, he said.

McMullen said the city is proposing to create a special assessment district that would allow homeowners to be charged for the project cost over a 15- or 20-year period. But that must be approved in a referendum among those homeowners, with at least 50 percent plus one of the homeowners voting in favor.

The cost would be approximately $1,067 to $1,271 a year, depending on the years the project would be financed and the interest rate, McMullen said. The homeowners would also have to then pay a monthly bill for sewer service, he said.

The city could perhaps recoup the costs by charging a monthly assessment on residents’ sewer bills, McMullen said. But it’s also possible it could be collected annually as part of the property tax bill, he added.

McMullen said he understands residents’ concerns about the cost of the project. But, he noted, it would relieve them of worries their septic system might fail.

The city is concerned that when the drought ends septic system failures will increase, McMullen said.

“We’re trying to be proactive ... we’re trying to get in front of this,” McMullen said.

McMullen said the city was disappointed with the turnout at a meeting on the issue Thursday night. He is encouraging residents in the area to appear Saturday, March 7 at the city’s retreat at City Hall in which the City Council will discuss the issue around 9 a.m.

Buchanan worries she and her immediate neighbors are targeted under the program not because they need the sewer service but to make it less expensive for others who would benefit from having the sewer access as an alternative to their septic tanks.

She noted that the homes having septic problems generally are the more expensive lakefront areas, not the more modest homes away from the water and on higher ground.

McMullen said the city isn’t suggesting that residents further from the lake be hooked up to sewer to lessen the financial burden on those nearest the lake. The city decided to explore hooking up all homes in the area that aren’t currently on sewer service in the hopes of avoiding future problems, he said.

If a home were to have a septic system failure, the county health department could declare it uninhabitable until an alternate plan is constructed, McMullen added.

Buchanan wondered why the cost per household wasn’t calculated based on the relative property value of each home in the area, as some homes are worth more than others. She noted that although she hasn’t had any problems with her septic system, she paid a few years ago to have the septic line moved to head off any potential problems.

Buchanan is hoping to get a petition going to force city officials to abandon the plan.

Larry Turner, general manager of the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority, said WASA would not finance the work because that would be unfair to its other rate payers. But if the city proceeds with financing the plan WASA would construct and maintain the needed infrastructure as part of the city’s sewer system, Turner said.

The neighborhood just to the west of Lake Peachtree is one of the city’s pioneer areas and has been without public sewer service from its beginning in the late 1950s.

Several other areas of the city are not sewered either, including such high-dollar areas as Smokerise and estate lots along Robinson Road.

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Submitted by mysteryman on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 9:51pm.

Why do we pay taxes, to provide services, this is the icing on the cake folks, charge homeowners to extend to county sewer system that will be made availible to all, come on get real, if the people want to hook up to it after you have made it availible then they will have to obtain a permit and hire a contractor to run the line and tap, that is all that they will have to pay for just like all the rest of us in fayette county, oh yeah and then they would have sewer added to their water bill after connection, this is madness at best and it is time to fire the clowns at city hall that would even propose and idea like this. BLESS

Submitted by Aus815 on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 8:49pm.

well, if these homes have to tie onto the sewage system, then I believe that $12,000 dollars is alot of money , and a long term obligation to have to pay... If there is already an existing sewer main...last time I checked sewer pipe doesnt cost that much... if the city is already going to get paid these sewer fee's... they should create a "new crew" maybe those that just got laid off, to go and install these new sewer laterals...haha!

Submitted by FayetteFlyer on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 4:24pm.

Who has experienced the travails of an aging septic system, this doesn't sound like it should be summarily dismissed. Having inherited this mess from a previous homeowner, leaky leach fields and an unpumped septic tank are no picnic, trust me! They're a good idea in a more rural area, but in a growing community, better to be on the sewer line, IMHO.

PinchedNerve's picture
Submitted by PinchedNerve on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 10:32am.

My first instinct is to be repulsed and bitch and moan because this is Bernie's idea. But really its pretty fair. Its not like the city is just shoving this down peoples throats. They get to vote. If there really is an issue of lake front snobs versus modest non-lakefront homeowners then the non-lake front will win. They outnumber lakefront by What? 60-20.Unless Ol'Bernie got creative and figured out a way to draw the district so that lakefront outnumbers non-lakefront. I Wouln'd put it past him. Anyway, if you live in this district and you don't like Bernie's idea go vote.

PinchedNerve's picture
Submitted by PinchedNerve on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 10:35am.

Speaking of Ol'Bernie. Why is he all of a sudden interested in this? Did he and Logsdon just buy a house in this area? Does that house have a septic problem?

Submitted by baroombrawl on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 7:43am.

Had no idea of such!

Boy those developers have been babied along haven't they?

These areas should never have been built in a planned community without the developer installing sewer lines or not building there at all!

All those current millionaires who made much of it off these developments should be back-billed!
Should be, but won't be!

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 8:38am.

Keep in mind that most of these houses were probably originally bought/ built in the 80's. You know, around the time Bernhard was unpaved and remained Bernhard all way down to Hwy 54. The growth in PTC continues to amaze those shrinking few of us who remember when MacIntosh HS was built and the majority of PTC was just a twinkle in PCDC's eye.

Sexy Guy's picture
Submitted by Sexy Guy on Tue, 02/17/2009 - 10:08pm.

This is insane. Sounds like Bernie is desperate for money. Worst idea ever!

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Submitted by aliquando on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 1:18am.

Just the government wanting more money. PTC has the most expensive sewer rates in the state. (last time I checked).

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