The Grantville city council voted to design and construct a new storm water drainage pipeline on LaGrange street at its Monday night meeting.
Councilmembers Mark King and Jim Sells voted for the repairs, while councilmember Ruby Hines voted in opposition. Councilmember Alan Wacaser was not in attendance.
LaGrange Street's storm water problem began in April when city engineer Brennan Jones noticed the pipes were rusting and would lose their bottom if not addressed.
However, the pipes, running through both private and city property, lack documentation on whether the pipes were installed as a private or public endeavour and easements for the drainage system.
According to city manager Al Grieshaber, Grantville performed maintenance on the pipes in the past on multiple occasions, and he believes there is a prescriptive easement for maintenance on the piping system.
With the repairs to the drainage system approved, the city will:
- Determine the extent of the pipe network and perform an inspection to decide the project's limits.
- Determine if the city has documented and recorded drainage easements.
- Perform a survey of the piping system on LaGrange Street.
- Obtain drainage system easements from the property owners and record the easements with Coweta County.
- Design a new drainage system to replace the existing pipeline and bid and construct the improvements to replace the current system.
Hines was not in favor of making the repairs to the LaGrange Street pipes because the drainage system is on private property.
"I am opposed to the city correcting storm water problems on personal property on LaGrange Street because it opens the gate for the city to repair storm water problems on all personal property," she said.
However, King disagreed with Hines. He said Grantville has a responsibility to manage the storm water.
At a previous council meeting, King voted against repairing the storm water drainage system, but voted to reconsider the issue at the council's June meeting.
"The city has a responsibility with storm water, just as it does with sewage," he said. "It needs to direct its flow and accumulation and its proper disposal. I'm in favor of looking into the storm water drainage problem on LaGrange Street and resolving it. In the past, we have dealt with the situation on LaGrange Street and should continue to do so."
Mayor Doug Jewell voiced his own opposition to the making repairs to the drainage system.
According to Jewell, the area where the drainage system currently is used to be a drainage ditch. He said whoever installed the pipes made the property "usable, where before it was not usable because of the open ditch."
"Nobody seems to know who put it there," he said.
"I don't think the taxpayers of this city ought to pay to increase the property values of just a couple of people," Jewell added.
After the vote, Jewell asked city attorney Mark Mitchell if there was a conflict of interest because one of the properties that the drainage system runs through is owned by Sells.
Mitchell said he did not see a conflict of interest.
"It's like painting the street that goes by your property. It's not something that is specific to an individual," he said. "I don't see any conflict that would prevent the vote."
At the end of the meeting, during time allotted for citizens' comments, Grantville resident Robert Royce said Sells had a conflict of interest in voting for the repairs to the storm water drainage system.
Sells used his time for council comments to reject Royce's accusations.
"If we continue to ignore the storm water problem, the city would be paying tremendous amounts in lawsuits and would lose," Sells said. "I know you like to hear yourself talk and, but you're just full of gossip, and I don't lose any sleep at night over your accusations."
Grantville's code of ordinance on conflicts of interest for city officials states "A city official shall not participate in a vote or decision on a matter in which the official has a material financial interest … Where the interest of a city official in the subject matter of a vote or decision is remote or incidental, the city official may participate in the vote or decision after disclosing the interest."