Sewer service letter writer elaborates on his positions

Posted 2/10/19

To The Editor:I would like to clarify my concerns I have about proposals to expand sewer service to the unincorporated parts of Bradley County, and clear up any confusion anyone might have about my …

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Sewer service letter writer elaborates on his positions


To The Editor:

I would like to clarify my concerns I have about proposals to expand sewer service to the unincorporated parts of Bradley County, and clear up any confusion anyone might have about my recent Letter To The Editor.

As mentioned in the letter, I am concerned that these efforts are being motivated by a special-interest agenda. It is not an unwarranted slip of the mind to suspect that the purpose of this proposal is to benefit the homebuilding business.

As was mentioned, I believe the purpose of this proposal is to open up rural areas in Bradley County for the homebuilders to construct large numbers of high-density residential subdivisions. This is something that Commissioner (Charlotte) Peak completely ignored and didn't even attempt to rebut in her response to my letter, which only further merits my suspicion.

Also, Commissioner (Dennis) Epperson has even stated in the past that he believes that more residential developments should take place in the county, and that this is not possible without sewer service.

Although I am not certain, I suspect that this proposal is something that the local homebuilders organization has been lobbying for to benefit their personal agenda. In her claim that this is a necessity, Commissioner Peak cited a study that speculates Bradley County's population will increase to about 136,000 by 2050, which appears to be based on past trends. But, in reality, no one knows what will happen. All that we do know is that Bradley County will not keep growing forever.

However, I am also concerned that this proposal to create a countywide sewer service is an effort to deliberately grow the community, and part of this suspicion comes from past trends. While I totally understand the need to prepare for the future, I am completely opposed to continued growth efforts mainly because, aside from the fact that perpetual growth is impossible, the local governments have failed to address existing problems that have arisen from past population growth.

And, for this reason [I] have no reason to think that they will not make the same mistakes in the future. A few examples include:

Roads: While this area often requires state cooperation, our roads are completely outdated and have been operating well above their designed capacity for a long time. To quote state Rep. Mark Hall (who I don't agree with on much), "... our infrastructure is stuck in the 1970s."

As a lifelong resident of Bradley County, I have watched our roads deteriorate and become more and more choked with traffic. Meanwhile, the state and local governments seem to mostly ignore these problems, instead focusing on unnecessary items.

For example, I've been hearing plans to widen Highway 60 in the city for at least 10 years now. Hasn't happened. I've been hearing about plans to widen Mouse Creek Road for pretty much my whole life, but this never seems to have been taken seriously.

And, without a doubt, the most problematic road is Interstate 75. Every morning and afternoon, I-75 backs up between Cleveland and Ooltewah because there are just far too many vehicles for two lanes running in each direction. This should have been widened a long time ago.

While I applaud the local governments for finally realizing, and encouraging, the state to address this problem, I am completely appalled by the fact that they appear to have considered the construction of a new interchange on APD 40 more important than widening I-75. Also, Exit 20 should have been rebuilt long before it finally was.

Schools: More people simply means more schools will be needed. I've been hearing plans to construct this new city elementary school currently under construction for about 10 years now, but it's just now happening.

I don't think there is any question that this has been delayed multiple times, and for this reason, I have no reason to believe that the same thing will not happen in the future, considering that more students will require more schools. In fact, many people consider our other schools, especially our high schools, to be overcrowded.

I remember reading in 2017 that Cleveland High School's enrollment has increased by 500 students in the previous five years, and while I don't understand why this is, it is still cause for alarm. And, it is an issue that, again, I don't believe the local governments will be able to handle properly, considering how they've failed to properly deal with these problems in the past.

In summary, I am opposed to continued growth efforts because I believe the local governments have failed to deal with problems created by past growth, these being just a few examples.

And, I believe that countywide sewer service would only fuel the trend of problematic population growth.

I also believe that we should work to preserve the rural and agricultural parts of Bradley County and the interests of the people who live in these areas by not allowing residential growth to take place in these areas.

Even if Bradley County does continue to grow, there are alternatives to sacrificing farmland and woodlands for subdivisions and commercial developments.

However, another concern I have about this proposal is the cost. Such a massive undertaking would most likely wind up being more expensive than expected, and I assume that the taxpayers would pay for it.

I am affiliated with an organization that works to represent the common interest of the taxpayer, and the cost of such a project would most likely fall on the taxpayers/ratepayers, increasing both taxes and utility rates.

Also, such a project is not a one-time expense. Someone has to periodically inspect and maintain such a system, and such a system will not last forever, and will eventually need to be replaced. Also, population growth increases the cost of basic necessities, which in turn will place more of a stress on such an undertaking.

I do not dispute the fact that there are issues with existing septic systems in the county, but I believe that there is a much less expensive alternative to deal with these problems.

In short, I am opposed to expanding sewer service into the rural parts of Bradley County because I believe it's intention is to open up rural areas to builders/property developers to construct residential subdivisions; in essence, benefiting their personal interests.

I also believe that we need to protect and preserve the rural and agricultural parts of this county.

I am also opposed to continued growth efforts such as this because the county and city have failed to address existing problems that have arisen as a result of past growth, and future growth would only worsen these problems.

I also believe that the government's purpose is to work to preserve the local economy, and how much Bradley County grows or declines is a matter for the private sector, not the government. 

— Jake Saiger



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