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Urban County Council approves water-quality fee, reconsiders Tates Creek sidewalks

Urban County Council gave final approval to a water quality fee Thursday night that will probably start appearing on water bills in January.

The fee will be $4.32 for single-family homes, duplexes and farms. Everybody else, including schools, churches, stores and factories, will pay $4.32 for every 2,500 square feet of roof, driveway, parking lot or other impervious surface.

Only council members K.C. Crosbie and Chuck Ellinger II voted against the ordinance.

The fee was mandated by a consent decree the city signed last year with the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2006, the EPA sued the city, charging its antiquated sanitary and storm sewer systems were polluting streams to such an extent it violated the federal Clean Water Act.

If all goes according to plan, bills will go out in January and the revenue will start coming in February, said councilwoman Linda Gorton, who led a task force that worked several months refining the proposal put forth by Mayor Jim Newberry.

In other business:

At its Tuesday work session, council members tabled indefinitely an ordinance to accept $811,000 from the state highway department to construct sidewalks on both sides of Tates Creek Road between The Enclave and Dove Run Road.

At the council meeting, members voted to un-table the ordinance and gave it first reading.

"As a community, we say we value being a bike- and pedestrian-friendly community. This is a huge opportunity," said councilwoman Diane Lawless, who made the motion.

Residents who live along that stretch of Tates Creek oppose the sidewalks for reasons of aesthetics and safety.