The city council for Bauxite voted to enter into a pre-annexation sewer service agreement with Parkway Trails LLC during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
The council questioned City Attorney Chris Madison and Lance Penfield, of Baxley-Penfield-Moudy Realtors, who is representing the developers, about the plans for the sewer system.
"This is the council giving its blessing and saying it wants to move forward," said Penfield, adding that the master plan would still need to go before the planning and zoning commission.
Penfield said the developers have 1,200 acres, with 457 of those acres covered by this agreement, but any development added would also be covered by the agreement. It is meant to be developed in stages.
The plan is for the developers to build out the sewer system with an agreement that the development would be entitled to 80 percent of the city's sewage plant's remaining capacity.
If the development exceeds that, the city will look into adding on to the sewer plant. Mayor Eddie Jones said the plant is designed to expand.
Councilman Ron Ramsey wanted to know when the city would have to take over maintenance for the new system since the agreement said the developer must maintain it for a year. Penfield explained they hope to make the development an improvement district, meaning the residents would pay a fee to maintain the system. If there is damage, the district will collect the money to make repairs. It may pay the city to do maintenance, but the district will be responsible for funding it.
"It is good for the developer. It is good for the community and it protects the city," Madison said, calling it a "win, win, win."
The developer will build all infrastructure for the new area, including streets to the county standards.
Penfield said when each platt is completed they plan to voluntarily annex into Bauxite. If an area didn't annex, because it is on the city's sewer, it would cost the homeowners 1 1/2 times the cost for sewer that someone in the city pays.
"It looks like it is going to be a really nice area," Councilman Ron Parsons said.
The development is designed to eventually have fire, police, parks and schools with the improvement district maintaining the parks, Penfield said.
"We are going to have a really elaborate, cool trail network," he added.
The council passed resolution 4 of 2019, authorizing the mayor to enter into the pre-annexation agreement.
The developers plan to bring plans to the next planning and zoning meeting.
The council also passed the annual ordinance to levy property tax so it could be turned in to Saline County. Jones said this tax is not new or a change, but has to be passed each year.
Jones sought the council's input on applying for a $50,000 grant, which he would like to use to remodel the Bauxite Fire Station.
He was told it is an easy grant to apply for and receive. The city would not be required to pay back funds and there is no cost to apply.
"It is a no brainer," Ramsey said.
The council encouraged him to apply.
Police Chief Jamie Barlow reported that many of the people who had been written code enforcement violations are working to correct the issues or already had.
He said four vehicles were removed from a property and the owner has 45 days from the date of removal to reclaim them or they will be put up for auction. If the owner reclaims the vehicles, they will have to pay storage fees.
Jones asked the council to approve him hiring an outside contractor to mow and weed eat some areas of the city to free the street department employees to do other work. He has gotten one quote to do it two times a month for $440 a month. He is working to get two other quotes.
The council agreed to give him permission to either hire the one who quoted him or someone who comes in less expensive.
The council also approved Jones to put Steve Savage, a CPA, on retainer to audit the water department each year. The city would pay monthly so it doesn't have to pay one big cost at the end of the year. Savage will audit every six months.
During the public comment section, Jeff Watterson told the council he wanted to commend Barlow and his officers for the good job they do for the city. He was able to ride along with an officer recently and see all they do.
"I am behind y'all," he said.
The Bauxite Council meets at Bauxite City Hall on the third Monday of the month.
The public in encouraged to attend.