WARNER ROBINS -- The City Council on Wednesday discussed how expenses of millions of dollars could determine how and where thousands of people could live.
Among the discussions were expanding city infrastructure well south of Ga. 96 into Oaky Woods and near Perry.
Though the terminology was about sewer lines, the actual discussion involved where the city should focus its growth efforts by changing infrastructure. During the work session, council members closed the doors to the public when they began discussing property acquisition for a possible new sewage plant that could serve Bonaire, Oaky Woods and areas close to Perrys northern city limits.
Even relatively small changes can have an outsized impact. Utility Department Director Montie Walters showed a video of how the city put about $500,000 worth of sewer piping along U.S. 41 between Russell Parkway and Watson Boulevard. Walters said thats drawn a multimillion-dollar apartment complex already, but the apartments are on a tiny portion of the land thats actually available, some of it in Peach County.
A lot of acreage of development opened up because of that sewer line, he said.
Walters predicted that the area around Lake Joy Road and Russell Parkway could also boom soon, much as the intersection of Lake Joy Road and Ga. 96 grew. The Russell Parkway area is getting a McDonalds and may get a Wal-Mart grocery store.
The city is also preparing for more growth along the Ga. 96 and Ga. 247 intersection, where the state is adding an interchange and widening Ga. 96.
But Utility Department staff sought more guidance from City Council on how to serve places a bit farther out. City Council members have reluctantly allowed Perry to take on some properties the city had planned to offer sewage service to, mostly down Ga. 127 not far from Houston Lake Road.
Utility Engineer Marianne Golmitz estimated it would take $1 million to build a sewer lift station to pump sewage toward an existing plant, which would be cost prohibitive.
Council member Tim Thomas gestured at the areas that Perry has taken into its sewage service area, and then at Oaky Woods, an undeveloped area east of Ga. 247 and south of Ga. 96.
I would give Perry this for that any day, Thomas said.
Council member Clifford Holmes was worried about ceding anything.
We dont need to keep giving away land now, Holmes said.
Not long after Golmitz began talking about the possibility of building a sewage plant that could serve both areas, council members closed the doors.
Warner Robins isnt worried about service and growth only to the south. Warner Robins is fighting Byron in court over who gets to provide sewage service in an area west of Interstate 75. One of the properties in dispute is within sight of a Fort Valley city limits sign.
Mayor Randy Toms told The Telegraph the Utility Department will present a proposal for a facilities study. Asked if City Council is interested in a new sewage plant to the south, Toms said yes and added, We want to grow.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.