Billboards and water were the hot topics at the Aug. 5 Richmond Hill City Council meeting.
The first reading for a proposal to add billboards in the city was done, while plans were approved for higher water rates and a multi-million dollar Stormwater Master Plan.
The higher water rates will go into effect on Jan. 1. The city restructured the rates in reaction to new mandates from the Environmental Protection Division regarding water withdrawal from the upper Floridan aquifer.
City Manager Mike Melton said out of 3,700 residents, only about 500 would be affected by the new water rates. Those 500 residential customers are currently using over 10,000 gallons per month.
According to the proposed tiered rate structure, usage of 10,000 to 25,000 gallons per months will cost 25 percent more while any water used above that will cost 200 percent more. Melton said only eight residents currently fall into the highest category.
Commercial customers, on the other hand, will all be affected because commercial rates are proposed to go up 25 percent.
In another water issue, hired engineer Andy Seaver gave a presentation explaining the ins and outs of the city’s Stormwater Master Plan. The city has not had a plan such as this in the past.
It is designed to protect people and property from potential flooding during heavy rain, protect water quality and provide a rough draft for the infrastructure of storm water systems as the city grows.
Seaver said to complete everything outlined in the plan would cost around $10 million. He added that this is a 20-plus year plan and the city could pick and choose which projects they would like to pursue. The projects include replacing old sewer systems, broadening and deepening Sterling Creek Bank and establishing a storm water utility.
The city approved the concept of the plan, but made no financial commitments at this point.
Meanwhile, the first reading was conducted for a proposed ordinance change that would allow billboards and interchangeable electronic signs to be placed along designated areas of Hwy. 17 and Hwy.144. Currently they are only allowed along the interstate.
The issue will be up for final approval or disapproval at the Aug. 19 city council meeting.
City manager Mike Melton said members of council are proposing this as an answer to the requests they have received from sign companies to erect billboards in the city. This includes an alleged threat from Georgia Outdoor Advertising to sue the city if they did not allow billboards.
If approved, billboards would be allowed along Hwy. 144 from Thunderbird Drive to Fort Stewart and on Hwy. 17 from Harris Trail to Ponderosa Road, while electronic signs would only be allowed in the Hwy. 17-144 intersection corridors.
Council shot down a request from Georgia Outdoor Advertising to extend the proposed areas of billboard allowance to include 144 Mini Storage, where they had planned to place a billboard.
The current proposal would only allow billboards in designated C-4, or interstate commercial, zoned areas. The storage facility lies in a C-3, or general commercial, zone.
To see detailed maps of where the billboards and signs could be placed in accordance with this proposed ordinance change, go to www.bryancountynews.net.
In other business:
- Richmond Hill Police Chief Billy Reynolds conducted a presentation to acknowledge the promotion of Lt. Mike Albritton to captain.
As the current head of the RHPD Criminal Investigations Unit, Reynolds said Albritton has solved a lot of crimes in the city. Albritton previously served in the traffic and patrol divisions, including being a K-9 handler.
To see video of this presentation, go to www.bryancountynews.net.
- Richmond Hill Fire Chief Vernon Rushing introduced the city’s two newest firefighters. Bobby Williams comes to the city from Hinesville while Joe Florenza just transferred from Bryan County.
- Council approved the $53,000 Georgia Department of Transportation contract to pave Bass Drive, which is near Edsel Drive.
- The final subdivision plat for Walgreen’s was approved. Site and elevation plans have previously been approved and a groundbreaking is anticipated by next fall.