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Hamilton Co WWTA holds public hearing over controversial sewage plant

People who live near the proposed sewage plant stood together to tell WWTA they do not want the plant in their backyard. (image WTVC)

A line went out the door and around the parking lot at the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department Training Center. An overwhelming number of Hamilton County residents showed up to convince the Waste Water Treatment Association to leave their neighborhood out of the plans for a new sewage plant.

During last week's county commission meeting, commissioners denied funding the WWTA's proposal. People who live nearby the proposed area off of Mahan Gap Road felt like they had a big win against the WWTA; but the battle to move the plans elsewhere is still ongoing.

On Monday, WWTA held a public hearing for people who live in the area. Officials say they wanted to inform the public on why they chose the land they did for their sewage plant.

Executive director Mark Harrison says the Mahan Gap location is best because it will be the most cost-effective choice for county taxpayers, and because the sewage would flow using gravity, and wouldn't need as many pumps, which reduces the potential for odor. But taxpayers who showed up Thursday night, aren't convinced.

"It's going to decrease property values, it's just an absolute given," said Jeff Tieder. He says the sewage plant would be less than 200 feet from his house.

"No one wants to live near a wastewater treatment plant."

Throughout the hearing, people shouted comments and questions to the WWTA officials.

"We're the one that are gonna have to put up with it," yelled one man. "We're not putting up with it."

Some residents even supported the idea of raising money for a lawsuit if the propose sewage plant gained approval from county commission.

Harrison says he doesn't think he'll be able to change the minds of people who live near the plant, but hopes other people in the county understand the plant would benefit everyone.

"The folks who think they're gonna be harmed by living next door, I won't be able to sway their opinion," said Harrison.

"I don't think people understand how this impacts many more folks than them."

Commissioner Chester Bankston facilitated the hearing. He says he too is against the sewage plant proposal, and would prefer it be installed somewhere else.

"I want to encourage them to move it to the Meigs County site," Bankston said.

"I see a houseful of folks that don't want it put in that location. I know we have to have one, but we have to find a better location."

Bankston asked other commissioners to attend the meeting to see how his constituents react to the idea.

WWTA will host another public hearing on October 23rd. They are still working on determining a location large enough to fit the amount of people who showed up Thursday night.

The wastewater plant will go to a hearing by the planning and zoning committee on November 12th for recommendation, then commissioners will have the final say in December.

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