Rincon and Effingham County officials are expected to meet sometime next week to try to resolve water and sewer service delivery maps.
Representatives from the three municipalities and from the county met Thursday morning at the county administrative complex to discuss the water and sewer lines. Guyton and Springfield officials said they had no problems with their water and sewer service area as drawn up, but there are some sticking points between Rincon and the county.
Central to the issue of the county and Rincon’s service delivery lines are which entity is best suited to provide water and sewer service to the Heritage tract and to the Grandview development.
“The major points of contention are Heritage and Grandview,” interim county administrator David Crawley said.
The county has a contract with Grandview, which is along Old Augusta Road, for water and sewer service. Grandview developers, with a proposed 1,650 equivalent resident units, opted to seek service from the county last summer after they balked at Rincon’s request that they be annexed in.
“We were in agreement about the right way to go, and they didn’t want to go that way,” Rincon Mayor Ken Lee said. “I don’t understand their objections.”
Rincon City Manager Donald Toms said the city has the capacity to serve the development, which is near Rincon’s wastewater treatment plant.
“We have plenty of sewer capacity,” he said. “We continue to work on increasing our capacity.”
Toms said the city’s water lines are less than a half-mile from Grandview, “and our wastewater facility is almost adjoining the property,” Lee said. “If the county serves that, it’s a foolish decision.”
“We’ve made the same point about Heritage,” Crawley said. “Our lines of capacity to serve it are closest. Our wastewater treatment plant is closest.”
Crawley estimated it would take about $7 million for the county to extend its water and sewer service to Grandview.
The county has repaid its general fund for money borrowed to put in its infrastructure.
Wendelken said the city’s longstanding policy has been not to extend service to areas well outside the city limits. By law, each city has a service delivery area a half-mile around its city limit
“We’re annexing Heritage because the owners want to be annexed in,” he said. “I’m thinking about the future, and I’m sure people will want to annex in.”
House Bill 49 prohibits requiring annexation for water and sewer service. Rincon and Guyton officials said they request — but do not demand — areas outside their limit that want service from them to be annexed in.
Lee also said Rincon is locked in to which direction it can grow. Springfield is directly north by only a few miles, the Savannah River, Abercorn Island and the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge lie to the east and Chatham County lies to the south. Rincon’s only direction to go then is west.
“The county chose to put its wastewater treatment plant a half-mile from Rincon’s service delivery area,” Wendelken said.
“We are naturally restricted on three sides,” Lee said. “We’re boxed in.”
Crawley said the county is not opposed to a city growing in a way it thinks it needs to. He also espoused the creation of a water-sewer commission to handle such problems as service delivery areas. But that idea was not greeted warmly.
“This benefits the county more than any city,” Wendelken said. “It allows the county to get out from under past decisions.”
Wendelken also said Rincon has done a good job managing its infrastructure and he was not in favor of giving up the city’s water and sewer infrastructure. He also objected to the creation of another authority or commission that would not be directly responsible to the citizens.
“I don’t see how any of that benefits Rincon,” he said.
Guyton has approved a service delivery area that encompasses a vast expanse of land north and west of the city, but much of it is wetlands and likely will not be developed.
Springfield Mayor Barton Alderman said his city did not have a problem with its service delivery area, though it would like an area where its planned sprayfield will go.
Guyton officials also were happy with their service delivery area map as drawn.
“We’ve been fine with our service delivery area for two years,” Garvin said.
County officials also may schedule another meeting with the Grandview developers.
“We’re never going to get anywhere pulling against each other,” county commission Chairwoman Myra Lewis said. “We have to decide if it’s going to work for everybody.”
Said Crawley: “I think we can work on a strategy to allow the cities all the growth potential they have and can handle.”