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Utility authority adopts rules and regulations

Waste water and storm water county-wide now will be regulated by the Pearl River County Utility Authority.

Wednesday night members of the authority met at the old BankPlus building in Picayune and adopted the waste water and storm water rules and regulations, but held off on adopting fees for handling the waste water for at least two weeks. Fees were put off until the next regular meeting to allow for more funding to be located.

While the authority currently does not collect money from county residents, the authority has been approved to receive some funds in the form of a grant.

Planning and Development Director Harold Holmes told the authority that Pearl River County has received a $25,000 grant from Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to work on storm water management. Holmes said that the authority could apply for Coastal Impact Assistance Program funding available though Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for up to $75,000. Those two pots of money would be enough to start the Comprehensive Storm Water Management Plan for the county that will be under the jurisdiction of the authority, he said.

Authority member Don Durham suggested writing a letter to request the funding. The authority approved the motion to draw up a letter requesting support from the grant and stating their support of the joint effort between the county and authority to formulate a plan for storm water.

Several developers in the county have agreed to entertain donating infrastructure they install in their developments to the authority, authority attorney Mike Caples said. Whether those infrastructures will be donated and have a year warranty associated with them with a restart clause is still in the works, Caples said. The restart clause states that if the authority has problems with the infrastructure it will be repaired by the developer who installed it and the year warranty will start anew from the time of the failure, authority president Steve Lawler said.

The rules and regulations were modified before they were adopted Wednesday night. Some of the changes involved combining corresponding rules with each other and making all rules and regulations more readable. The comment period on the rules and regulations ended on Oct. 5, and some of the submitted comments were presented to authority members.

“Obviously some of the comments (involved) the fees,” Caples said.

One question concerned an existing subdivision having to pay for services when they do not want them. Caples said that section of the rules and regulations pertain to new building and only apply to existing houses in subdivisions if two thirds of the subdivision residents want to have the authority provide waste water service. Then three sets of votes from residents of the subdivision would have to take place before any construction began, Caples said.

“So there’s a lot of safeguards there for homeowners,” Caples said.

The issue of how to address the questions posed that evening was debated and authority members decided to address those questions two ways, with personal correspondence to those who posed the questions, and to take out an ad in the paper. The authority authorized the authority policy committee to respond to each of the comments presented with either a pro or con answer and approved another motion to take out the ad in the paper. Funding for the ad will be worked out by authority members.

“I think we owe it to the people of Pearl River County,” Durham said.

If a resident still has concerns or questions, the authority is available to address them.

“We will meet with anybody to discuss any issues pertaining to this board on our rules and regulations that wants to meet with us at any time,” Lawler said.

Some other matters addressed in the rules and regulations involved any new water facilities and wells installed should allow for growth, although it is not a requirement, Caples said. Also, fire hydrants in subdivisions should be placed 500 feet apart as per fire department regulations. If public water is available in developments with more than five lots, the developer will be required to connect to the public water. Septic tank certification will now need to be done every five years to ensure the tank is in proper working order.

After the authority went over the rules and regulations they approved adopting them as amended Wednesday night striking the fee schedule, which will be considered for approval at next meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., Nov. 6, at the Poplarville City Hall.

To protect the members from being involved in any conflicts of interest Durham suggested that all members of the authority sign a personal disclosure statement, which will be presented to the members at their next meeting. Caples said these forms will identify any issues that may pose a conflict of interest.

The authority also went into executive session concerning a real estate acquisition matter, no decision was made on the matter.

In other business the authority approved travel for the tech committee to go to Nashville for training on decentralized sewer systems and report back to the rest of the authority on their findings.