The first meeting of the Harlem City Council for 2007 began with the swearing in of three incumbent members.
Columbia County Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett swore Mayor Scott Dean and City Councilman John Thigpen into their second four-year terms. Mayor Pro Tem J. Rudolph Dixon was sworn into his fifth city council term.
All three ran unopposed in the November general election.
After the ceremony, the city officials went about city business by denying a request by the developer of Hardy Station subdivision to change plans for a neighborhood under construction off Harlem-Grovetown Road between Knox Road and Douglas Street.
"They came to the city to get a PUD, planned unit development, then they turned around and they changed their plan and started putting in their infrastructure without getting the PUD changes approved," Dean said.
The change, the mayor said, includes delaying the construction of townhomes and realigning the subdivision road to send traffic from 62 homes out a single road that was originally supposed to handle traffic from 22 homes. A second entrance road was planned to go along with the townhome development, which has been put on hold.
Jonathan Starrett, whose home is on property adjacent to the proposed entrance road, objected to the changes at Thursday's meeting.
"The big thing is the amount of traffic on that road," he said. He's also concerned about drainage and utilities issues. "I have a 3-year-old, and that traffic is going to be running right beside my house.
"I'm not too happy about the change, especially since it was done without permission."
The city council denied the changes and sent the issue to the city's Administrative Committee, which will try to facilitate an agreement between the developer and nearby residents.
Also at the meeting, the city council approved two studies by the city's engineering firm, G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers.
As much as $10,000 was approved to bring in a hydrogeologist to locate any new well sites that would produce more water than Godwin well. That well, near Harlem-Grovetown Road at Old Union Road, needs about $100,000 in rehabilitation work, Dean said.
"It puts out about 200,000 gallons a day, but it has got a high air content in the water, so you'd have to let it settle before you could use it, and there are some issues with doing that," Dean said. The city is looking at potential water sources as a backup for growth.
Also, Harlem officials voted to allow the engineering firm to do a capital recovery fee study. The study is a first step toward implementing impact fees, which are collected from developers to help pay for the costs associated with new growth.
Dean said the fees would be an alternative to raising water rates to expand the water treatment plant.
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