Friday, June 09, 2006

TOP STORY >> Moratorium on building could end

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Cabot commission works out a solution to the maxed-out pumping system in Hwy. 321 area.

The moratorium on building on Hwy. 321 in Cabot could be over soon since the Water and Wastewater Com-mission has worked out a solution to the maxed-out sewer-pumping system in that area.

Building permits will be issued as soon as developers of five planned subdivisions in the area that will add 397 new customers to the system pay about $235 for each meter that will be set. The money collected will pay for about $93,000 in upgrades to the lift station and force main.

The problem the commission faced in dealing with the outgrown pumping system was that the city doesn’t own it. It belongs to the Cabot South Sewer Improvement District, which built it about 10 years ago and whose customers are paying for it on their real-estate tax bills.

Before new developments could use the system, the owners had to pay the improvement district an amount equal to what the original customers had paid over the years.

For Jim Green, a Jacksonville developer trying to build his first subdivision in Cabot, that means he will have to pay Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission $42,000 in addition to the $60,000 or so he has already paid Cabot South Sewer subdivision. Although the city has maintained the system in the sewer district since it was built, Bill Cypert, commission secretary, said he could find no records of the system being dedicated to the city or of the city agreeing to maintain it.

So the nature of the relationship between the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission and the commission that runs the Cabot South Sewer Improvement District is unclear. But Cypert made it clear Thursday night, during the regular commission meeting that from here on out, the commission, not the improvement district will deal with developers.

The city is under a consent order from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to improve its sewer system or pay heavy fines or worse.

“This is serious business,” Cypert said. “If something goes awry, the whole construction on that end of town could be shut down.”

In other business, the commission spoke to Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent for Cabot School District, who asked the commission to help pay for a $130,000, 14-inch water line to the planned elementary school at Campground and Kerr Station. The commission agreed to consider the request but made no promises.

Dalton had two selling points for the request for any assistance the commission might give.

The school district is one of the water department’s biggest customers, he said. If the school is built there, the area will certainly develop and bring in even more customers.

And the district will never make any money back on laying the large water line.

“We’re not contractors. We’re not ever going to see any profit off this,” Dalton told the commission.

The commission also heard from Vernon Williams with USI-Arkansas, Inc., the engineering firm that will build the new sewer plant.

Williams told the commission the construction plan is on schedule and the plant should be substantially completed by Dec. 31, 2007. Improvement District.

Green, who attended the Thursday night commission meeting, said he will pay because he has no choice if he wants to continue with plans for his 182-home Lakewood