Water rates to rise
By Kathryn Purcell
After an estimated five or six years since the last increase in the town's water rates, the Buckhead Town Council decided to end that dry spell by unanimously passing a motion to increase the water rates.
At their meeting last Monday, the town council voted to increase the base rate $3 to $13 per first 2,000 gallons per month, and the rate thereafter 20 cents to $3 per each 1,000 gallons. Currently, the base rate is $10 for the first 2,000 gallons and $2.80 per gallon thereafter.
Concerned about funding the purchase of a new chlorinator for Buckhead's water system, which would cost several thousand dollars, according to the council, it was estimated that the new rates would bring in about $500 more per month.
"The chlorinator we're using now is the back-up from the old pump," Mayor Ricky Walker said. "Who knows when it's going to go out?"
The new rates go will go into effect with the town's April billing.
In other news, Morgan County Senior Planner Allison Moon was in attendance at the start of the meeting to discuss plans for future changes to the town's zoning ordinances.
In showing the council an aerial map of the town, Moon pointed out the abundance of green space, noting that they couldn't expect that much longer.
"One thing you can see right off the bat is that Buckhead is largely undeveloped," Moon said. "That's probably not going to last."
Moon talked about the possibility of limited professional and commercial growth in the area, as well as the idea of a historic district. Further, the council expressed an interest in revising the look of the town, specifically referencing the look of the dilapidated buildings in the downtown area, as well as keeping agriculture in the area.
"It sounds like you're more interested in how the town looks as it develops," Moon said. "We will incorporate some of that."
Moon also said that she plans on adding items minimizing or eliminating the effects of off-site impacts as well as items regarding watershed protection and resource conservation to the town's zoning ordinances.
In a residential zoning discussion, Moon pointed out that, currently, Buckhead has four Residential Zoning Classifications and suggested condensing that to two, depending on whether the lot is more or less than an acre.
All members of the council, as well as Buckhead's Planning Commission representative John McCarthy, who was also in attendance, expressed a strong desire to keep the growth in the town controlled.
Moon will present a draft of Buckhead's improved zoning ordinances at a session to be held at 6 p.m. before the council's next regular meeting on Monday, April 21. The ordinances will then go before the Morgan County Planning Commission for recommendations on Thursday, April 24.
The Buckhead Town Council also voted unanimously to adopt updated water restrictions effective immediately.
As of the meeting Monday, hand watering is now permitted for 25 minutes anytime between midnight and 10 a.m. for three days a week on an odd/even schedule, meaning those with odd street numbers can water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays while those with even street numbers can water Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Further, the council approved the filling of pools as well as the use of sprinklers for newly planted trees and flowers. However, sprinklers can only be used, like hand watering, for 25 minutes, three days a week for one month.
In discussion of Buckhead's 100-year celebration, the council voted unanimously to put a $1,000 cap on the budget for the event. The celebration is slated for Saturday, May 31.