Nov 15, 2018

Sewage Treatment Plant Location Divides Community

The Planning Commission recommended denial for a sewage treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road in Ooltewah, Tenn.

The Planning Commission recommended denial for a sewage treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road in Ooltewah, Tenn.
The Planning Commission recommended denial for a sewage treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road in Ooltewah, Tenn.

In Ooltewah, Tenn., the Planning Commission recommended denial for a sewage treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road on Nov. 12.

According to The Chattanoogan, the County Commission will make the final decision. The Commission will hold a zoning committee meeting on Dec. 12 and a regular session on Dec. 19.

Those who opposed the project overflowed the meeting room at the County Courthouse and dozens who could not get in the room were in the courthouse rotunda, according to The Chattanoogan.

There were four commission members who opposed the motion by Commissioner Chester Bankston to deny the permit, according to The Chattanoogan. The majority voted in favor of the denial.

Jason Farmer, from the Planning Commission, felt it is necessary to build a sewage treatment plant, but not in the center of the neighborhood.

According to The Chattanoogan, the Regional Planning Agency staff asked for a 30-day deferral to obtain more information on the project. The Hamilton County and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) asked for a 60-day delay.

Commissioner Bankston moved for a denial as the discussion started. According to Bankston, there are better sites north of the Mahan Gap property that the WWTA has an option to purchase.

Mark Harrison, WWTA executive director, said it would be more costly to build the plant at the old Birchwood Landfill. Harrison said the Mahan Gap site could receive sewage mainly from gravity flow.

Some speakers said the plant would harm property values, bring odors and could also cause health problems for children and others. Other speakers said they thought the WWTA had been misleading to the community.

According to Harrison, if the plant is built elsewhere, the WWTA would likely still use the Mahan Gap property for a pump station and sewage containment.

"We do everything we can to be mindful of the cost of our services to our customers.  As we plan for the future, while cost is an issue, it is not the only issue,” Harrison said after the meeting. “ We must continue to focus on the welfare of our community as well as the impact on economic development our actions will have both now and in the future.”

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