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Published October 8, 2014
 
Courtesy The Herald Leader
 

Kegebein warns Commission of restrictive EPA regulations

 
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed new water regulations that many see as restrictive to local governments and private property owners. County Road Superintendent Tim Kegebein warned the Ben Hill County Commission Monday night that the regulations, once in place, could severely restrict the County’s ability to maintain roads and ditches.

POTENTIALLY affected are: roads and roadside ditches, storm water channels and storm water sewers. “They are saying that anything that flows into international water from any source is covered,” Kegebein said. “That’s everything. Everything eventually reaches international waters.”

“We will likely have to get a permit to pull ditches, which could take months to approve and may require us hiring an engineer to design a plan to submit,” Kegebein added. “It could also affect private farms and other private property and how they use water.”

Commissioner Scott Downing noted that such restrictions have been in effect in western states for some time. “A California man was recently arrested for collecting rainwater off of his roof into a barrel,” Downing said.

The EPA has a comment period open until October 20. All local governments are encouraged to submit comments on the regulations, Kegebein said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

• Kegebein reported that a recent sale of surplus equipment netted the road department $106,000. The funds will be added to the road department’s budget.

• County Manager Frank Feild reported that he and EMA Director Jason Miller continue to research federal surplus property programs. “In the last 24 months, we have purchased equipment and supplies that would cost $2.8 million new. We paid about $30,000 for all of it. We recently purchased a used Dodge Interceptor with full police package for the Sheriff for $15,000.” The Commission, later in the meeting, voted to surplus four older Sheriff’s vehicles to account for four new cars received this year.

Feild also noted that there will be a cookout for all County employees and their families on Saturday,
November 8, at the Senior Citizens Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

HE ANNOUNCED THAT the DOT has sent the contract for the new public transportation program that Commissioners approved last summer. The van fleet will be operated by a third party vendor with half of the funding coming from the DOT and half generated locally. The contract will run from January 2015 until June 2015.

• Voted to transfer four acres of County land on North Merrimac Drive near Westwood Drive to the Development Authority of Ben Hill County. The action is part of a plan to build subsidized housing.

• Passed a resolution thanking the Water Well Trust, a private non-profit, for their assistance in solving the Queensland well situation. The Trust raised $90,000 to use for low-interest loans to allow private property owners to install wells.

• Approved to quit-claim deed for two pieces of property in Queensland area to return property used for wells to the original property owners. It is hoped this final action gets the County out of the water business at Queensland after decades of controversy.

• APPROVED ADOPTION of Municode ordinances that the County has been working on for several years. The codified local ordinances will be published on the Municode website, and a few printed copies will be provided for County offices.

There was also a discussion on local enforcement of ordinances. Commissioner O.D. Netter said, “If we call the Sheriff and no one comes, that’s a problem.”

County Manager Feild added, “We need a code enforcement officer who is a certified peace officer.” The County is budgeting for a code enforcement officer in the 2015 budget.

• After a discussion on closing out the 2005 SPLOST, Commissioner Downing requested a workshop before final plans are made. One is scheduled for October 20 to discuss SPLOST funding.