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News Planning board considers water, sewer expansion

Macon County's planning board held its regular scheduled meeting last Thursday. The board discussed the county's comprehensive plan and some possibilities that could be considered for the future growth areas located in the county, namely when it comes to water and sewer that is provided by the Town of Franklin.

“The recommendations that came out of the comprehensive plan for public sewer was to take the step to ensure that the sewer system is at adequate capacity in advance of the need. At that time it was at 70 percent capacity and at 70 percent capacity start planning for future expansion and at 90 percent start to secure funding to implement construction of a new facility,” County Planner Matt Mason told the board.

If there is water in the county and it does not come from a well or spring, then most likely it is provided by Franklin's water system though there is a gray area when it comes to some portions between town and county ownership. According to Town Planner Justin Setzer, there are currently 3,525 water customers and 2,366 sewer customers. Using a map he showed the rest of the board where the current lines for both are located.

“Obviously the water is pretty much all throughout the city limits,” he said. “There's some places where you don't see it like out towards Car City (Sylva Road), but you've got it all the way out Lake Emory. You've got it to the new Wal-Mart, all the way down the Georgia Road to just past the Welcome Center, all through Patton Valley, but not in Louisa Chapel. Out the Old Murphy Road you have it to Mill Creek. It goes out 28 and up Riverbend to Lakeshore.”

Focusing on water and sewer, the board considered where these systems should be extended to.

“Are there any plans to extend water down the Georgia Road?,” asked Peggy Patterson

Setzer referenced a Growth Zone Policy that had been in the works by former Town Planner Derek Roland. That policy laid out a variety of recommendations for the different locations where growth is expected in the years to come.

“You can pretty much drill a well anywhere to get water. I would assume that sewer is the biggest hindrance to development,” suggested Bill Futral of Scaly Mountain. "If you're talking about doing expansion and where to develop, it doesn't have to work off the existing system. If 441 is the corridor you want to focus on because of the large amount of traffic you could create a whole new system closer to the border of Georgia and work back this direction.”

Focus remained on the Georgia Road when board member John Shearl informed the board that an estimated 14,000 vehicles travel on the road each day.

The board also considered actions that are currently being taken in Rabun County, Georgia with the Fruit of the Loom plant and the head waters of the Little Tennessee River.

“We need to keep an eye on what they are doing in Rabun County,” said board member Susan Ervin. “They are about to change their licensing from commercial to municipal water treatment and there will be significant upgrades going to be done to their system and that will be beneficial but I think it's important that Macon County stays on top of what's going on there since they have the head waters of the Little Tennessee. There could be huge impacts on Macon County with what they take out and what they put back in.”

With the new sports complex going into development at the Parker Meadows property on Highway 64, Mason suggested a few areas that could be considered.

“Chris [Hanners] and I talked about maybe looking at 441 South, out to the new rec complex on 64 West, up the Sylva Road towards the Ford place. 28 North, probably not. I probably wouldn't want to put too much on to the Highlands Road either,” he said.

County Commissioner and planning board liaison Jimmy Tate suggested that the board develop a priority list of areas for expansion to be presented to the commissioners in the future.

The next planning board meeting will take place on April 17 at 4 p.m. at the Health and Human Services Building.

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