“Franklin County, we are at a crisis point in the area of Coolbrook — one of the seven (wastewater package) plants we have in operation and it is one of the many that have been neglected for over 40 years now,” Judge-Executive Huston Wells stated at the start of Friday’s fiscal court meeting.
Wells said county officials and the Farmdale Sanitation District have received numerous calls from residents in reference to the smell of raw sewage in the area and creeks.
According to Magistrate Marti Booth, whose district includes Coolbrook, farmers are concerned about their animals drinking water that leaks from the treatment plants.
Wells explained that issues with the plant include, but are not limited to, blocked pipes, electrical problems and a broken blower motor.
“If you turn on one pump the electric goes off. If you fix the electric and the pump comes on, it won’t stay on very long and there is already a pump that has gone down,” Wells added.
While there is no quick fix, the judge-executive pointed out that county leaders are aware of the problems and are doing everything they can to help remedy the situation.
A special-called meeting of the Farmdale Sanitation District was scheduled for Monday night. The board has been tasked with determining the issues and costs.
The ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) committee will meet Tuesday to discuss available funding.
Wells said the federal budget, if and when it passes, has $3.5 million earmarked for the district. The fiscal court has also allotted $1.5 million as a match fund for a total of $5 million.
Ann Northcutt, community development coordinator, said she has reached out to various agencies for emergency repair funds — including the Bluegrass Area Development District, Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, Rural Development, Division of Water and Department for Local Government.
“It’s a shame and is something that shouldn’t happen in this great capital city,” Wells continued. “But it is happening, so we have to do something major about it.”
Booth claimed the issues with the plants are because they were designed and built to serve a smaller area. She said the plants are in bad shape because developers kept adding more homes onto the system.
Wells, on the other hand, blamed the treatment plant problems on privatization. He said the people who owned the plants prior to the county taking them over were making money and didn’t have to work on the system because it was brand new at the time. He likened it to a car warranty.
“Once that warranty went out they didn’t put the money back into the system, so the system crumbled,” the judge-executive said.
“We’re having to fix the problems that have been neglected for 40 years.”
In other business:
• The court voted 5-2 to approve a zoning change for a proposed RV park on Jones Lane in the southwestern portion of the county.
The owners of 505 Jones Lane, Ryan and Nichole Turner, requested to change the zoning of their 10-acre lot from rural residential (RR) to agricultural (AG) to accommodate the creation of a 99-space RV park.
At the Aug. 12 meeting, Franklin County Planning & Zoning Director Robert Hewitt and Road Department Superintendent Jon Mitchell said several county agencies viewed the road and considered the zone change appropriate.
The Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission, which held two public hearings on the matter from residents concerned about the traffic impact on nearby residential areas and the road’s ability to withstand large vehicular traffic, unanimously approved the zone change.
At Friday’s meeting, the court established eight findings of fact. Magistrates Sherry Sebastian and Marti Booth voted against the zone change.
• Unanimously approved subsidizing employee health insurance premiums for dependent plans with Humana for the calendar year 2022.
Human Resources Director Betty Jo Readnower told the court that the move will help with employee retention.
“Currently the county is not competitive,” she said. “We did a lot of research this year, looked at different counties and talked to KACo (Kentucky Association of Counties) about other options.”
• Approved Sebastian’s appointment to the Joint City/County Working Group for Economic Development. A fifth person, a citizen representative will also be appointed by the mayor and judge-executive.