The Hamilton County Wastewater Treatment Authority will work with the community to form a committee to seek a solution to the area's sewer needs after a controversial plan to build a new sewage plant in Ooltewah failed last month.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger made the announcement Thursday evening during a community meeting at Central High School, though details about the committee's structure have not been finalized.
Previously, the sewer authority sought a special permit to build a new $45 million sewage treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road in the Ooltewah area, which would have been part of a larger $200 million plan to update the county's sewer lines under mandate by the Clean Water Act.
Officials were met with heavy pushback, however, from residents who were furious over what they said would be unsightly, and smelly, tanks that would lower their home values and diminish quality of life. And in December, Hamilton County commissioners, under pressure from the community, denied the request from WWTA in December in a 6-3 vote.
Thursday night's meeting was touted as a "reset" by Coppinger as he told residents that WWTA agreed to move the site and pushed the idea of creating a resident committee to work with WWTA in picking a new site.
"Starting tonight, we want to work together," he said. "We have to do a much better job with communication. We are committed to that."
However, he warned, moving the plant to a new site will cost more taxpayer money.
After the meeting, Coppinger told the Times Free Press that Dean Moorhouse, president of North Hamilton County United for Responsible Growth, would be in charge of selecting the people to serve on the new committee, and he expected that to be done within the next week.
However, Moorhouse said Thursday night was the first time he'd heard of such a committee.
"I don't even know if I'm in charge of getting the committee," he said.
If indeed he is put in charge, Moorehouse said he plans to select a group of about five or six people who already serve on the responsible growth committee. That should be done within the next two weeks, he said.
"We're excited for the opportunity," he said.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.