| By Jason C. Mattox
Phase Three of Keating Grove subdivision remains without natural gas service while city leaders wait for a cost estimate from department superintendent William Wilson.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Wilson said Keating Grove builder Reeves-Williams wanted city gas services in Phase Three which is located on Bethlehem Road, outside of the city limits.
Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said he didn’t agree with the city allowing someone out of the city limits to have city utilities.
"They are out there building some nice houses and we don’t get any money on taxes from them because they aren’t in the city limits," he said.
Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton said he had no problem with the city running a gas line out to the property.
"They already have water and sewer," he said. "Gas is the only utility we make any money off of, so I would be for running it."
Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell suggested having the builders include a friendly annexation clause in the subdivision’s covenants.
"If you go to them with this, it would mean the people who purchase the lots would not be able to fight annexation when you move out that direction," he said. "You don’t want to go ahead and annex them now, but you want to make sure they will allow it when you get ready to annex."
Dugger repeated his objection to the allowance.
"I just don’t see how we can go out there and spend all of this money getting them gas and we can’t even get any taxes off the property," he said. "I don’t see why we can’t go ahead and annex them when we run the gas line."
Mitchell explained that annexing one subdivision at a time would not be cost-effective for the city.
"Every time you annex, you have to do the annexation studies and redistricting," he said. "You get into a very costly process."
Dugger stated that another problem he had with allowing city services to the subdivision is the builders are not required to comply with city codes and ordinances.
"They can build this subdivision and these houses any way they want to and they don’t even have to be up to code," he said.
Code Enforcement Office Administrator Pam Comer said the city could request that covenants on the property require permits and inspections by the city.
"We have had other subdivisions that have required the home builders to receive inspections from the city to make sure they were up to our standards," she said.
Dugger said a provision like that would ease his mind.
"Doing something like that would make it a lot easier for me to go along with letting them have gas," he said.
Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton suggested denying the request.
"Maybe they could go along with butane or propane for their gas source," he said.
Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said she didn’t understand why the city would deny gas to the subdivision.
"They already have access to the other city services and we know they will eventually be annexed," she said. "So I don’t see why we can’t go ahead and let them have gas."
"If we don’t hook them onto natural gas now and try to do it in five years, you can forget about it," Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow said. "They won’t do it then."
Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley said he would like the city to send a letter to Reeves-Williams requesting they follow city code requirements.
No action was taken. The matter will be discussed again during the board’s Sept. 6 meeting.