Baldwin County Commission approves status quo on utility policy

BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WALA) – At issue for the residents of the Plantation Estates subdivision, just east of the Daphne city limits, is allowing Baldwin County Sewer Service (BCSS) to establish a sewer line in their neighborhood, despite their opposition to the project.

“Initially, we had submitted a petition that garnered 29 out of 31 residents that basically expressed our opposition to the Baldwin County Sewer coming into our neighborhood,” Linda Peterson, one of the residents, said.

And while the company has stated that hooking into the sewer line won’t be required, residents we spoke with said they worry about BCSS just being in the neighborhood.

“In November of 2012, there was a case of cross contamination right over here in Belforest where schools and businesses were forced to close,” Gary Whigham, another resident, said.

There was also another incident of water contamination back in 2005 in a Fairhope neighborhood. BCSS was ultimately fined $100,000 in that case, according to records from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

Beyond contamination concerns, residents also expressed worries about the installation process, saying it could damage their landscaping.

At Tuesday’s county commission work session, county engineer Cal Markert tried to quell those fears.

“We have a section in our actual permit application, not in the policy, but in the permit application that requires all utility companies to restore the people’s right of way, our right of way, back to the previous condition or better,” Markert said.

The county commissioners also addressed the residents request to change the county’s utility policy to mandate residential input before granting a permit.

“We looked at it. We certainly did not see a need to change the policy, it didn’t look like. And we’ll see what happens on Tuesday in the regular commission meeting about the permit. But given what I was seeing there, I think that the permit will go through as well,” Commissioner Chris Elliott said.

FOX10 News reached out to Baldwin County Sewer Service about the neighbor’s concerns. They declined an on-camera interview, but issued a statement saying:

“Baldwin County Sewer Service (BCSS) has been requested to provide sewer service within Plantation Estates to residences suffering with failed or failing septic systems creating a potential health hazard within the neighborhood. BCSS has applied to Baldwin County for the routine issuance of a permit to access the public rights of way within Plantation Estates to provide the requested service. Due to delays in the permitting process, BCSS has installed a temporary collection tank until the installation of the service can be completed.”

Market also added that BCSS opted to bore the project, meaning the vast majority of it will happen underground. The permit is set to be voted on Tuesday, August 19.

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