The Richmond Hill City Council granted the go-ahead for the application of nearly a million dollars in stimulus money to rehab the water and sewer system during Tuesday’s council meeting. Council also reviewed plans for a proposed 84-unit townhome project off Timber Trail Road.
City Manager Mike Melton said the stimulus funds are being applied for through the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA). If awarded, the money will go toward updating and repairing pump stations within the city’s water and sewer system.
Melton said the city gave GEFA, the state agency that provides water and sewer funding, a long list of items for consideration of stimulus consideration, but the organization came back with just the one item as a priority for funding. If approved, the funding will be via a $1,338,000 GEFA loan to complete the work, but "GEFA will forgive $929,000 of that loan. That’s about 70 percent."
Melton said there are about 50 pump stations throughout the city and they routinely wear out. He said they are costly to maintain.During a review of planning and zoning issues, council reviewed a sketch plan of a 12-acre, 84-unit townhome project known as Cherry Hill Townhomes. The proposed project is part of Richmond Hill Plantation and is located off Harris Trail Road, adjacent to Cottonham Plantation. The master plan was approved last year, and developers were present to get some feedback before designing a site plan.
Councilman and Mayor Pro-tem Floyd Hilliard asked for consideration toward creating a second entrance while Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar discussed lengthening the one-car garages to accommodate two vehicles.
In other business:
- Council again denied the billboard request from Southern Outdoor Advertising to erect a billboard near I-95 exit 90. The request, presented as being the fifth billboard in the quadrant, was shot down because it has since been discovered that this would be only the second billboard in that particular quadrant.
- A bid for just over $280,000 was approved for Tyson Utilities to build water and sewer and lines to the City Center. City Manager Mike Melton said the lines will run the length of the park, but the park will remain open with little disturbance during the two months it will take to run the lines. The lines will also provide water to the forthcoming amphitheater and the Wetlands Center.
Melton said Tyson’s bid was $200,000 less than the next highest bidder. He also said Tyson has done good work for the city during prior projects.
- Council gave Melton permission to negotiate with Melrose Pyrotechnics in the interest of bringing a fireworks display to J.F. Gregory Park on the Fourth of July, in conjunction with the recreation department’s annual event. Melton explained that the RHRA annually conducts their event on the Saturday nearest to the July 4th date, but this year the fourth falls on a Saturday. Being so, the pyrotechnic company is in higher demand and is requesting $10,000 instead of the usual $5,000.
Hilliard said the community has come to expect and appreciate not having to drive to Savannah to see the display. Council member Marilyn Hodges said it should be done to enhance what has come to be a great annual family event for the city.
- Council unanimously voted in favor of participating in National Night Out on Aug. 4. Wikipedia.com defines National Night Out as a community gathering "aimed to increase awareness about police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, town watch, and other anti-crime efforts. RHPD Chief Billy Reynolds said his department will participate in the event, which is slated to take place at J.F. Gregory Park.
- Richmond Hill Fire Chief Vernon Rushing said two grants have been applied for. One would bring the city communication equipment while the other would pay the salary for four years for three additional firefighters.
- An alcohol license was granted for Bella Luna restaurant, located where defunct restaurants Black Angus and 3-J’s have been, attached to the Knight’s Inn on Hwy. 17.
- Council agreed to renew their contract with the Georgia Department of Corrections, which brings in 8-10 female inmates that do various work throughout the city, such as picking up trash. Melton said it is a great bargain as the city only has to pay the annual salary of the guard, which comes to $39,500.
- Council approved the request from eight-year-old Cub Scout Tyler Sakelarios to run a lemonade stand at J.F. Gregory Park on June 13 to raise funds for childhood cancer research.