Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabot to annex south after deal

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Cabot WaterWorks has struck an easement deal with developer Toby Troutman to lay a large water transmission line connecting to Central Arkansas Water across his property in the Hwy. 5 interchange area. The city will then annex his property and take over his private sewer system.

In the past, Troutman has resisted annexation. And without control of the private sewer system, Cabot WaterWorks could not make improvements that would allow further development in the area.

The commission also plans to upgrade the water system in the area to improve fire protection, another necessary element for commercial development.

The water upgrades will be possible because of the water main that will run across Troutman’s property.

The Cabot Water and Waste-water Commission last week approved a contract for paying Troutman, son of Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, $107,000 for easements across his property and commission control of his sewer system that will make commercial development possible in the area.

The commission also voted to pay $37,000 for improvements to the system to bring it into compliance with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality regulations.

The multi-part agreement also calls for the privately owned Cabot South Sewer Improvement District, which Troutman’s private system fed into, to be turned over to the commission in December 2011, when it will be debt free.

The deal is expected to be closed in a few days. City Attorney Jim Taylor, who told commissioners that he believed Troutman’s property, which includes the Huddle House restaurant and a mobile home park, could be annexed into the city by the end of the year.

“This commission has done its part to promote economic development,” spokesman Bill Cypert said of the agreement that has been more than six months in the making.

In other business, the commission discussed the draft of a policy for complete integration of water and wastewater services.

“Cabot WaterWorks shall not provide new wastewater service to any property unless Cabot WaterWorks also provides water service to the property,” the draft says.

The city already requires annexation of property before wastewater service may be provided.

If the new policy is approved, in addition to being annexed, developers would also have to take Cabot water which would in some cases require getting releases from other water providers such as Grand Prairie, Bayou Two, North Pulaski, Ward and Austin.

The draft also requests that the city not issue any occupancy permit for any structure within the five-mile extraterritorial planning jurisdiction unless it has city sewer or a state-approved septic tank and water service with adequate capacity and pressure, as determined by Cabot WaterWorks for fire service within a Class I or Class II ISO fire rating.

Cypert will present the draft to the council’s public works committee next week. The city attorney told the commission that he believed the mayor and council would support the policy.

Although commission chairman J.M. Park warned against setting precedent the commission approved paying $50,000 to lay an eight-inch water line in the Lonoke County Regional Park on Willie Ray Drive on the site of the old city dump.

The land is being reclaimed for recreation purposes. So far, only a BMX track has been constructed. But that track is hosting events.

Cypert said it would be in WaterWorks’ interest and the interest of rate payers to lay a waterline capable of supplying all the attractions that will eventually be built.

The vote to pay for the line was unanimous. WaterWorks expects to recoup its money in connection fees as the attractions are built.