By Michael R. Moser / firstname.lastname@example.org
At the conclusion of a state-mandated public hearing on the creation of a public sewer district for the Lake Tansi Village area County Mayor Brock Hill told the crowd that he was leaning toward approving the system's creation.
"As it stands now, I am inclined to approve the utility district," Hill said. "But, there are some concerns that need to be addressed first and we will be busy reviewing your questions before that decision is made."
Friday those questions must have been answered because before Hill left town for Washington, D.C. and county business, he signed the order creating the Tansi Sewer Utility District.
According to reports, Hill has also appointed the three-member board but the names of those appointees were not available. The Secretary of State must approve the creation, which is expected to be a routine action, and the board is tentatively scheduled to hold its first meeting March 11 at which time, among other things, a general manager will be appointed.
An estimated 180 people filled the Thunderbird Recreation Hall Thursday night to obtain first-hand information, ask questions and voice opinions about establishing a utility district that will provide sewer services for the community.
Chuck Burgess of Environmental and Civil Engineering Services explained that the proposed sewer district would be developed in three stages with stage one taking over the private Tansi Wastewater Management Inc. operation that presently serves POA amenities.
Phase II would be Hiawatha East and West, a work already under way with the private company doing the infrastructure and paying a hookup fee of around $190,000 to the district.
Phase III would be residential areas done logistically as allowed with special emphasis on the older sections where higher septic system failure rates exist.
A note of interest to some is that the treated product will be of such standard that it will meet standards to be used to water the golf course.
Facing the crowd and answering questions were Nashville attorney Donald L. Scholes of the Nashville law firm of Branstetter, Stranch and Jennings, Tansi Property Owners Association board member Duke Coyne, who serves as president of the Tansi Waste Management Inc., Burgess and Hill.
Among concerns expressed by attendees was cost to property owners, whether hookup will be required and maintenance.
The system will use low pressure lines with each service having a grinder pump that will be installed. A $5,000 fee will be charged each property owner which will pay for the grinder pump, its installation and decommissioning of septic tanks, or their removal where required.
The $5,000 fee will be financed by a yet-to-be determined formula, depending on the acquisition of grants and low interest loans. Most likely scenario is that property owners would be assessed annual fees over the course of several years to allow for payment of the $5,000 fee.
Also charged will be a $1,500 hook-up fee which will help pay for installation of main lines.
The system will be funded by about $995,000 that is left from a $1 million grant obtained by the county years ago, by other federal government grants and loans that are being anticipated, and by the rate payers.
Scholes, whose firm has worked extensively with utility districts, explained that utility are a government entity whose creation begins with a petition from 25 residents that is filed with the county mayor.
That petition includes proposed district boundaries and a list of three proposed board nominees. The mayor then appointments the three-member board from residents who live in and will be customers of the proposed district.
The plan is submitted to the state Utility Management Review Board whose main concern is whether the planned district is financially able to operate. Once the financial feasibility is established, the state board approves the creation of the new district, which was done on Feb. 4, Scholes said.
Next a public hearing is held followed by the county mayor approving creation of the district.
Proponents of the plan state that 95 percent of the lots in the 6,800 acres of Lake Tansi have unusable or limited use septic systems which pose a danger to the quality of lakes in Tansi as well as property and human health.
Supporters say creation of the district is not only vital to future growth of the area, but to protect property values of present property owners.