Hamilton Co. Commission votes to not fund Ooltewah water treatment plant
A controversial water treatment facility was put on hold after Ooltewah residents spoke out against Hamilton County selling the land needed to build the plant.
In a six-to-zero vote, commissioners struck down a proposal to build that wastewater treatment plant on 157 acres off Mahan Gap Road.
Commissioner Chester Bankston of District 9 said, “Y'all have embarrassed me, and I represent these people. Y'all have embarrassed me in the way you handled this."
Neighbors in the nearby Harrison Bay community said they felt blindsided by the proposal.
Commissioners agreed, saying community meetings were not held, and they were given short notice to decide.
“Let the community have some input. You say on your website you have 10 sites. I guarantee you I can find a whole lot better site than this one, so I will not support this,” Bankston said.
County Attorney Rheubin Taylor warned commissioners that by voting yes to the financing agreement, they would not have a say in the land's use.
"All Hamilton County is asked to do is to fund the project; you are not asked to approve this site or any other site. That's the WWTA’s decision, but specifically, if you all vote no, it could be brought back,” said Taylor.
The gallery was packed with residents concerned about their property value.
One resident asked, "would you come and market my house, and would you guarantee that when I just brought my house that I would get my money back? And would you sell this house to your mom, to your son? I mean there are going to be remedial questions because nobody wants to live next to a water plant."
Mark Garrison, one of the Executive Directors of WWTA, accepted the commission's decision, putting the blame on himself.
“I think the biggest issue is that we switched from the potential of the treatment plant being at the landfill to this area, and that is what took people by surprise,” said Garrison.
Garrison says he will hold a public meeting before making a second proposal.
It's not clear if that proposal will involve the same stretch of land.
That public meeting will be held on October 11th at 5:30 pm in front of the old fire station at 9100 Snow Hill Road.