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By CHERYL DUNCAN
It’s official — Rockwood is on the path toward making Park View subdivision part of the city limits.
Although Rockwood City Council unanimously approved the plan of service, annexation and zoning resolutions on first reading Monday, it was not without contention from either side.
A smattering of the area’s residents witnessed the first steps toward incorporation.
Resident Ron Taylor’s comment that the exclusion of sewer from the plan of service violated state law troubled council member Dudley Evans.
“We’ve got to give some kind of specifics,” Evans maintained.
Crystal Cove developers paid for a sewer line along Pumphouse Road that could provide service to part of the area. The original plan of service, however, indicated no plans to extend the service to the newly annexed residents because many of them have septic systems.
Taylor first broached the matter during an Oct. 8 workshop between Park View residents and city officials. At that time, Rockwood Water and Gas Manager Rod King confirmed the law mandates extending sewer to newly incorporated areas within “reasonable time.”
“There’s no leeway in the law,” Taylor said during Monday’s meeting. “I brought this up last time, and apparently nobody was listening.”
Evans, who made the motion to approve the plan of services “for discussion,” asked to amend the plan to include a time frame for sewer extension.
Mayor James Watts replied that the plan meets state requirements and that it is the same one that’s been approved for previous annexations.
“Some things you just can’t nail down,” he said. “We can’t specify to everything the gas, water and sewer board can do, but if you want to amend it, you’re welcome to make the motion.”
Council member Harold Ishman said the policy of the water, sewer and gas board is to make every effort to provide service to city residents needing it.
He added, however, that another state law requires residents who have access to sewer lines to pay for the service.
“It doesn’t matter if you hook up to it or not, you have to still pay the sewer,” said Ishman, who is the council’s water, sewer and gas board representative. “That’s the law.”
“That cannot be constitutional,” Evans replied.
Evans’ proposal to amend the plan to extend utilities “if there’s a deemed request to do so” from 50 percent of the annexed community was approved unanimously.
Park View resident Reba Scarbrough protested the annexation, but for a different reason. She explained that she had recently been involved in a car crash on Gateway Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Rockwood.
She referred to Police Chief Bill Stinnett’s assertion during the Oct. 8 meeting that response time
is three minutes for his officers from downtown Rockwood to the Park View area.
“It took the police officer 25 minutes to get to the scene of the accident,” Scarbrough said. “How in the world can they get to Park View in two minutes when they can’t even get to Gateway in 25 minutes?”
Council members assured Scarbrough they would look into the matter related to the crash.
“If that turns out to be true, that’s totally unacceptable,” council member Stan Wassom said later in the meeting. “But there’s two sides to every story.”
The second and final reading of the annexation and zoning ordinances is planned to take place during the next regular city council meeting.
That meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 in Rockwood City Hall, will include public hearings on both matters.