By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Joint Development Authority (JDA) discussed sewer and wastewater developments at Stanton Springs, including the recent completion of a wastewater system by Newton County Water and Sewer and the upcoming groundbreaking for Baxter’s pretreatment wastewater facility.

Mike Hopkins, executive director of Newton County Water and Sewer, told the JDA that the completed wastewater system includes a reclamation facility and lift pump station that will offer service to the entire Stanton Springs development.

Hopkins also said that the plant will be a “minimal disturbance” to the rest of the development because a wooded buffer will exist between the plan location and the remainder of the development. Andrea Gray, attorney for the JDA, said that she recently met with representatives from Baxter, which is preparing to begin construction on a $12 million pretreatment plant.

Gray said that Baxter is currently having to compile documentation before the JDA will be able to make a first draw on the $5.9 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), which the JDA received on Baxter’s behalf to fund the pretreatment plant. Gray stated the first draw must be made during the first six months after the loan was issued, which gives a deadline of Feb. 19 for this project.

Anticipating that Baxter wouldn’t be able to get their documentation together before the deadline, Gray asked for an extension to prevent the loss of the loan. GEFA has also asked the JDA to provide a level of quality control to make sure that Baxter builds the plant according to GEFA’s regulations.

Gray said that Baxter “has every intent in the world” to make sure that the job is done right, but JDA Chair Alan Verner said that he would help to periodically check construction to appease GEFA.

Additionally, the JDA approved a motion to “bless” Baxter’s selection of the Haskell Company for the construction of the pretreatment plant. During the meeting, the JDA also heard from Brian Allen, senior vice president with Gresham Smith and Partners and former director of the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation, concerning future coordination between the JDA and the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT). Paul Michael of TPA Realty, Inc., said that he thought Allen would be able to help the JDA “navigate” future dealings with the DOT and that they could have a “continued conversation” to be able to sort out the JDA’s priorities.

Potential developments mentioned at the meeting included improved signage on I-20 related to the Stanton Springs development, improving sight lines along the I-20 exit at highway 278, and redesigning the entrance at Baxter boulevard, the entrance to Stanton Springs.

Michael also suggested that the JDA work with the Stanton Springs utility providers in order to create a service capacity document, so any potentially interested industries would know the existing level of service available to them.

Keith Ellis, chair of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, said that a service capacity list would give the JDA and interested parties “real numbers” concerning utility service.