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Town might ration sewage-treatment capacity

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CLAYTON — The Town Council last week delayed action on a resolution that would have rationed sewage-treatment capacity in Clayton.

Through its own treatment plant and access to plants in Wake and Johnston counties, Clayton can treat 4.9 million gallons of sewage daily. But Town Manager Adam Lindsay figures Clayton has reached about 80 percent of that capacity, and he and his staff have suggested rationing what’s left until the town can build a new treatment plant.

Clayton is in the early stages of designing a plant that will be able to treat 6 million gallons a day. “That project, however, will take several years to complete,” town staff noted in last week’s agenda materials.

That fact prompted a policy proposal that council members received last week but said they wanted to discuss further at their retreat next month.

While the policy would ration treatment capacity in Clayton, it would also try to steer development toward the town’s liking.

“Utility-allocation reservations should support and maximize the concept of increasing the town’s property tax-based revenues by the expansion and improvement of higher-valued land-use development, emphasizing a balance of residential, commercial and industrial uses,” said the resolution the council considered.

Put another way, “the intent of this policy is to provide for the judicious allocation of (water and sewer) resources ... in an effort to shape the community consistent with the articulated vision to become the ‘Premier Community for Active Families,’ ” the resolution stated.

Specifically, the resolution says that “no more than 50 percent of the total available capacity may be allocated to projects that include solely residential development.” And at least 30 percent “shall be reserved for allocation to commercial/industrial projects.”

In descending order, the policy would give treatment-capacity preference to the following:

• Commercial properties with quality development projects.

• Development projects with a mixed-use element.

• Industrial projects and other major employer entities.

• Additional phases attached to residential projects with a proven record of quality product and economic success.

• Residential projects that include tangible, high-quality community amenities.

• Residential projects that include diverse products and opportunities.

• Residential projects not otherwise described above.

A scoring system would help the town decide which developments got treatment capacity, with projects needing at least 50 points to qualify. The scoring system would award points based on the type of development, its contribution to Clayton’s tax base and its benefit to the community. It would deduct points for adverse impacts.

Among types of development, government buildings would receive the most points, 50. Others scoring high would be single-family homes on existing lots, 40 points; hotels, 35; shops and restaurants, 30; industry, 30; downtown redevelopment, 30; mixed-use projects with homes and commercial spaces, 30; infill development, 25; and medical offices, 25. The fewest points — 5 — would go to subdivisions with the smallest homes, those with less than 1,500 square feet.

Turning to tax base, commercial and industrial projects would get the most points, 10. Housing would get 5, while projects that don’t add to the tax base — government buildings, for example — would get none.

Under “Community Benefit Bonus Points,” the most — 20 — would go to projects that become town electricity customers. The following benefits would be worth 10 points each: cultural arts and entertainment; sports and recreation for public use; expansion of commercial and industrial spaces; private trail connection to a public greenway; masonry elements included in building’s construction; and projects that create 26 to 100 new jobs. Projects that create more than 100 would earn 15 points.

Finally, the town would deduct 15 points for projects requiring construction of a sewage pump station and 10 points each for projects outside the town limits and those requiring pump station improvements.

Projects denied treatment capacity would be able to appeal.