White gives green light to sewer upgrades
by Neil McGahee
Jun 03, 2014 | 1214 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
White City Manager Jane Richards told the city council that the planned citywide sewer system upgrade was on schedule with all but two easements from property owners secured. Richards said the two holdout properties could be acquired by eminent domain, the power of a municipality to take private property for public use.

The project, which has been in the works for the last two years, is funded by a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) coupled with a grant from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). GEFA provided the grant — similar to a residential housing construction loan — to finance the planning and construction of the sewer system. When the construction is complete, the USDA will provide the long-term financing.

The USDA also required White to sign 140 new customers for the system. Those additional customers, along with commercial customers such as Toyo Tires and area subdivisions, should generate enough revenue from fees to pay off the loan.

One of the property owners, Josh Martin, who faces seizure of his property, addressed the council with his concerns.

“I am concerned that if we grant an easement to our property, we will be overrun by unwelcome visitors,” he said. “We already have people coming through our yard. If the trees are removed, the barrier to our property will be gone, too.”

Martin suggested the city build a gate, similar to one Georgia Power had provided on its easement as well as plant trees to replace the ones that had been cut down.

City attorney Boyd Pettit and councilman Dennis Huskins promised Martin that they would look into his situation before any decisions were made.

Next, the council heard a proposal from Richards that 17 new rules be adopted for the city park and all city property. Some of the rules are:

• The park will open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. every day, excluding special events.

• The walking path opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m.

• Only Bartow County vehicles may be parked on the property (excludes special events).

• No overnight parking.

• City of White residents and guests only.

• Children 17 and under must be supervised by a parent or a guardian.

• Birthday parties in Children’s Park must be scheduled.

• No alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs on property.

• No smoking on any city property.

• Any person visiting city property will be considered loitering after two hours, excluding special events.

Richards said the new rules were the result of teens “practically making their home at the park.” She said she had fielded many complaints from parents of young children who witnessed inappropriate behavior and language in front of their children.

Huskins said the problem was compounded by area landlords who rent substandard housing cheaply, attracting unsavory people to the area.

“These people don’t care anything about the property they are renting,” he said, “and they sure don’t care anything about city property.”

Huskins recommended looking into city zoning codes to see if the substandard housing violations could be enforced and the housing eliminated.

White City Council will meet next on Monday, July 7, at 7 p.m.