Commissioners, residents raise stink over WWTA sewer plant rezoning proposal

Residents concerned about the location of a proposed sewage treatment plant line up to speak at Wednesday's Hamilton Co. Commission meeting (Image: WTVC)

Harrison residents are relieved to see the Hamilton County commission take their side.

Jeff Tieder told commissioners his fears about the proposal that would build the plant just feet from his back door

"I am deathly concerned about the pathologic issues that this wastewater treatment plant brings to my back yard," Tieder said.

"I've invested my life on this property. I built my house by hand. You cannot do this to me," another resident, Duane Kanerva, said.

Commissioners said they're frustrated too.

The public, including commissioners, saying they didn't know about today's vote until a few days ago.

"We need information beforehand. This is livelihood that we're talking about," Commissioner Geter said.

"If you bring anything else before this body I suggest you do your due diligence and see what the community, let the community have some input," Commissioner Chester Bankston said.

The Hamilton County Wastewater Treatment Authority apologized for the late notice but they say the county a plant as soon as possible and that the Harrison site is their best option.

"This site came to the top, it met all our criteria, the gravity flows, in the valley, close to current road," WWTA board chairman Mike Moon said.

But, commissioners turned them down for now.

WWTA will now take their plans to the planning commission who will choose whether to recommend the plans for approval or denial to the county commission.

The county commission will vote again and have the final say after that.


UPDATE:

The Commission ultimately voted to deny money to the sewage treatment plant:

Watch the entire meeting below (note: the audio is poor, but that was beyond our control).

Now, the issue moves on to the planning commission. The planning commission decides whether to recommend it for approval or denial to the county commission. The commission will then vote again.

Read below to catch up on the debate that happened before the vote:

PREVIOUSLY:

The Hamilton County Commission discussed a controversial potential new sewage plant in Harrison on Wednesday.


Commissioner Randy Fairbanks said he and other commissioners support the idea of a new treatment facility, but not necessarily in that location.

Both representatives from the WWTA and the public were allowed to speak at Wednesday's commission meeting. About two dozen concerned residents were there.

Commissioner David Sharpe said "no one deserves to have this in their back yard."

Commissioner Katherlyn Geter said, "The fact that I got a notification of this vote yesterday is unacceptable. These are people’s livelihood we are talking about here."

Both comments got applause from the concerned residents.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, "In no way is this the final decision. They need the money from us to go to zoning. Then they will need to have public hearings. I hope we can all agree that we need a treatment plant. What we haven’t agreed upon is where it should go." Coppinger added, "None of us are satisfied with how this has been disseminated to the community."

Representatives from the WWTA then apologized for the poor communication.

Executive Mark Harrison explained his reasoning for wanting that location.

Harrison said the site was attractive to the WWTA because the sewage would flow using gravity, and wouldn't need as many pumps, which reduces the potential for odor.

Harrison insisted "we did our due diligence."

Below: Read a news release about the plant from the WWTA, along with some Frequently Asked Questions:

The WWTA will hold the first of several public meetings on this topic Thursday, October 11 at 5:30. It will be at the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department's Snow Hill Firehouse.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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