Whitfield commissioners approve agreement with Dalton Utilities to bring sewer to Edwards Park

·3 min read

Jul. 16—Large crowds for ball games or heavy rains can overwhelm the septic tanks at Edwards Park in Varnell, say Whitfield County officials.

On Monday, the county Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to sign an intergovernmental agreement with Dalton Utilities to expand sewer to Edwards Park from the new North Whitfield Middle School, which is being built next to the park. Chairman Jevin Jensen typically votes only if there is a tie.

The project will cost $90,000, which the county will fund with some of the $20.3 million the county will receive from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill Congress passed in March.

"Edwards Park uses what are basically residential septic tanks," said Whitfield County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Chastain. "When the park was built (more than 20 years ago), it was designed for sewer but there was no sewer nearby then. We've got a big pump station, so all we have to do is get to Dalton Utilities' sewer. It's an easy fix."

Jensen said federal guidelines allow ARP money to be spent on sewer expansion and upgrades. He said commissioners are still considering other ways to spend the rest of that money.

Commissioners also voted 4-0 to:

—Approve an engineering agreement not to exceed $350,000 with Southern Turf and Fields of Alpharetta for sod and irrigation systems at Riverbend Park. The money will come from the 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

—Approve a $55,430 contract with Outdoor Aluminum of Geneva, Alabama, for portable bleachers for the soccer fields being built at Riverbend Park. The money will come from the 2020 SPLOST.

—Approve a $50,000 contract with Southeastern Engineering of Marietta for engineering services for a planned improvement of the intersection of McGaughey Chapel Road and Old Praters Mill Road. The money will come from the 2020 SPLOST.

—Purchase a small section of property from the Dalton Golf & Country Club that is adjacent to the Whitfield County tax commissioner's office at 1013 Riverburch Parkway, just off the north bypass. The county will not pay anything for the property but will guarantee the country club a permanent easement so that its employees can enter the rear of the golf course from the property. Jensen said the property will be used to add about 30-32 parking places for the tax commissioner's office. The tax commissioner's office currently has 38 parking places.

—Approve beer and wine pouring licenses for the Cracker Barrel at 938 Market St. In a statement, the restaurant chain said it currently sells beer and wine, "including mimosas," at more than 400 locations, and plans to expand the number of Cracker Barrels serving beer and wine to nearly 600 by October.

Commissioners also held the first reading of changes to the county's zoning law that would allow residents of properties zoned rural residential (R5) to keep up to four animals that weigh no more than 10 pounds, such as rabbits and chickens (but no roosters), as long as their home sits on a lot of at least two acres.

Under the changes being considered, workers would be able to store their tools and work vehicles, but no heavy equipment, in their garages at home.

Commissioners emphasize these changes would not affect people who live in subdivisions, which are typically zoned R1 or R2. Commissioners are expected to vote on the changes at their Monday, Aug. 9, meeting.

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