published Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Utilities dispute service areas in Rhea County

SPRING CITY, Tenn. -- An ongoing dispute between the North Utility District of Rhea County and Spring City over which is supposed to provide water to a business has been resolved.

County Executive George Thacker said last week that Spring City would continue providing water to Douglas Automotive & Diesel Repair Service. But during a hearing, he told the utility district that it must submit a two-year growth plan in writing that includes connecting to the business.

At the hearing, Thacker chastised the representatives from the two utilities for putting "one man in the middle of two utilities."

The business is within the boundaries of the utility district, but owners Douglas Alley and Susan M. Crockett turned to Spring City after the district said they would need to pay $30,000 for a connection. The business gets its water from a well, but it "was getting dry," Alley said.

After Alley and Crockett approached Spring City for water, Nancy Cecil, office manager at the utility district, sent a letter to Spring City Manager Vicki Doster, saying "you are within the North Utility District of Rhea County boundaries" and had no right to connect to the business.

Doster told Thacker she "chose not to disconnect from a valuable customer."

At the hearing, Thacker implored utility representatives Charles Vanzile and Doug MacEwen to compromise, but they refused.

"It's a matter of principle," said MacEwen, who added that utility officials also wanted to keep "Spring City out of our territory."

Spring City's town limits end at Vanns Creek Road near Alley's business property at 23688 Rhea County Highway.

Crockett said they were told two years ago by district representatives that, if they paid the $30,000 to have the lines installed, the company would initiate service, but refused to do so otherwise.

The district has installed the $28,000 to $30,000 utility lines but hasn't connected to the business.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@ bellsouth.net.

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