Fiscal court to create sanitation district

The Clark County Fiscal Court took the first step Wednesday toward establishing a sanitation district to build a new sewer main to the WMU treatment plant that would replace a couple of sewage treatment plants for mobile home parks that are about 45 years old.

The magistrates approved the ordinance 5-1 on first reading, with Magistrate Robert Blanton voting no. A second reading is required to enact the new law.

Magistrate Chris Davis, who initiated the effort, said the two “most worrisome” package treatment plants are those for the Yorktowne and Treehaven mobile home parks on Rockwell Road, which are in “critical condition,” he said. His biggest concern is that they could fail.

“We have hundreds of families … who potentially wouldn’t have anywhere for their sewage to flow to after depending on these old plants now for decades” if that happened, he said.

County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said the Blue Grass Area Development District recommended creating the sanitation district as a way of getting grants to pay for the project.

The district would also manage the sewer system once it is installed.

Davis said the state Division of Water wants to take the old package plants off line because they are an environmental and public health concern. The money would be from Community Development Block Grant funding and other sources that wouldn’t have to be paid back.

Blanton thought the ordinance was unnecessary.

“If you read this ordinance, what’s going to happen here it seems to me, is you’re going to create this sanitation district and apparently do away with the Health Department, because everything in here is already covered by the health department regulations,” he said.

Karyn Leverenz of BGADD said that isn’t so. The Clark County Health Department would still be responsible for environmental regulation.

Blanton also said that under state law, 60 percent of the residents in the area have to sign a petition requesting the establishment of the sanitation district.

Davis said that is one mechanism under state law. Another statute allows the Fiscal Court to initiate it.

Leverenz said the latter approach is less cumbersome.

Davis said the way Clark County is doing it is to create it under KRS Chapter 67, following an ordinance model that has been used by several other counties, including Madison, Mercer and Lincoln counties.

Earlier, during the public comment period, Shelby Gill urged creation of the sanitation district.

Magistrate Greg Elkins commended Davis and Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulas for the work they had done on the project, and said it is greatly needed because, if left alone, the plants will surely fail, he said.

“Hopefully we’ll fix these problems before they get that bad,” he said. “We know what happens when they get to the end of their useful life. They start contaminating streams.”

“If ever there is a time for us to get funding for this project, now is the time,” Konstantopoulas said, with infrastructure funding coming in. “We have a very good opportunity to address those issues now with maybe zero to very little funding from local government.”

“We’ve got to take advantage of that opportunity, because we may not have it again,” he said.

Firearms in parks

Also during the meeting Wednesday, the Fiscal Court voted to clarify a city and county parks and recreation ordinance by removing language that prohibits possession of firearms by people in public parks. State law no longer allows such restrictions, but the language was inadvertently inserted again in an earlier update of the bill. At the Winchester City Commission’s last meeting, city officials reaffirmed that they too had a few years ago changed the ordinance to allow firearms.

Guns cannot, however, be discharged in city and county parks except in self-defense or defense of another person.

Utility assistance

At the beginning of the meeting, the magistrates held a public hearing regarding the COVID-19 Utility Assistance Program, but there was no public comment.

Rescuers commended

During the meeting, there was a recognition of three men, Jason Burden, and two Clark County Road Department employees, David Begley and Caleb Chancellor, who rescued a man after his car went into a pond on Donaldson Road on April 5. Zachary Pelfrey, 27, of Lexington, was trapped in the vehicle after it hit a bridge embankment and overturned in the pond.

They used bolt cutters, an iron digger and other instruments to gain access to the patient and kept him calm until firefighters and emergency medical personnel could get there.

Pace presented each of the men a framed certificate and commended them at the public meeting.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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