HAHIRA -- Hahira City Council will explore a proposal brought before Council that would allow three local developers to purchase spray field land for the city.
Gary Minchew, representing himself, Dr. Ben Moye and Lawrence Nelson, presented the idea to Council at a special meeting Wednesday.
The developers would find land approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Department, get a loan from a bank and purchase it for use as a spray field.
The city would take over the loan and repay it, Minchew said, possibly from the $3,000 the city charges for sewer taps.
Currently, Hahira is under a consent order from the EPD. It has to have EPD's consent before approving new sewer taps.
Hahira government officials have also had numerous discussions recently about the need to expand the sewer capacity.
Minchew said he had already talked with EPD, and they liked the idea.
Mayor Myron Crowe said the deal with the developers would not keep the city from applying for grants to help with the sewer issue.
While moving ahead with the grants, Crowe said, the city could be working on preparing the spray field and have it "up and running in four months," if no problems arise with finding the land.
Councilman Temple Ogundu commended the developers' thinking, but said he had some concerns.
Two of those concerns, Ogundu said, were the legality of the action and the amount of the loan.
City attorney Rob Plumb said the state constitution didn't prohibit the action. It's no different than "the city going out and hiring a contractor to build an expanded sewer plan," Plumb said.
He said the state constitution puts debt limits on cities' financing, but there are "numerous" legal exceptions.
Plumb also suggested allocating some Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues toward expansion next time SPLOST comes up for renewal.
As far as the amount of the loan, Minchew said he didn't have a set amount at the time.
Crowe said the loan amount would be discussed in the future.
"Every bit of this conversation is preliminary," Crowe said. "We don't know where the land is going to come from. We don't know how much the land is going to be. The plan would have to be brought back to us with the figures."
In 1965, Minchew's father-in-law, Jimmy Rogers, developed Windsor Park Subdivision. It was a mile and a half from Five Points Shopping Center, which was the closest water and sewer for the subdivision in Valdosta.
Rogers paid for the lines to be run into the development, and the city reimbursed him, Minchew said.
"It's a workable simple solution, and it's not anything that myself or the other developers are trying to make a nickel out of," Minchew said.
The only interest the developers have in the deal is the fact they need sewer taps, Minchew said.
Minchew owns the Lawson Farms and Woodbridge subdivisions in Hahira. Moye and Nelson also own developments in Hahira.
"When we came up here, we made a tremendous investment in the city of Hahira because we had a lot of faith in the city of Hahira," Minchew said. "That faith is still there. We know that the city's gonna responsibly grow and do well. We want to be a part of it, and we're willing, because of the faith we have in the city of Hahira, we're willing to step up a little bit more and make it better."
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