Local builders back measure on sewer program
By Evan Belanger
With the Decatur City Council poised to consider a new sewer-development program Monday, local developers are coming out in support of the measure this week.
If passed, the measure will create a special city fund allowing the City Council to selectively pay for some or all of the cost of extending sewer lines to new property developments. In return, developers must agree to annex their properties into the city.
Supporters on the council say the program will make Decatur more competitive with surrounding communities at attracting to residential and industrial developments. They also say it will increase the city’s tax base.
Local developers voiced their support of the measure Tuesday, saying it will make Decatur an easier place to develop property if it passes.
“I think it’s a huge positive step for our city,” said Britt Sexton, who is developing riverfront property in Decatur. “I really commend the utility department, the utility board and the City Council for hashing this out and getting this thing done.”
According David Peek, who is developing a 500-lot property on Spring Avenue, the new program is a good thing for Decatur, but it may have come too late for him.
Peek says he paid 100 percent of the cost for extending sewer service about 9,000 feet to his development named The Farm. The estimated cost of the project is about $500,000.
“I’m not negative about it in any way,” he said. “I’d rather some people get help rather than nobody.”
If the measure passes, the first to utilize the program will be Tuscaloosa developer Joe Brown Duckworth. According to Duckworth, if the city does not approve the program, he will be forced to locate his proposed 400-home development elsewhere.
He said cities like Madison and Huntsville already pay to link sewer service with new developments.
He also said Decatur’s current policy has left it at a disadvantage for years.
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