The Monroe City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night that effectively places a moratorium on providing sewer utility services to properties located outside corporate city limits.

The committee work session and called council meeting was held in person at City Hall.

The purpose of the resolution is to preserve Monroe’s sanitary sewer capacity by keeping its wastewater system within the city’s corporate limits, city officials said. The city’s wastewater system capacity is diminishing and Monroe is set to begin the first major rehabilitation of its wastewater treatment plant in more than 30 years. The city could increase its capacity in future, should city leaders pursue a multiphase wastewater treatment plant expansion once the rehab project is completed.

The resolution does allow for two exceptions: one, if a property is located outside the city but is currently connected to the city’s sewer system, then their service would not be interrupted; and two, if a property outside the city limits has paid its sewer fees or is in the process of an approved development agreement that stipulates sewer will be connected within 24 months of the date of the resolution, March 2.

The City Council also approved making lighting repairs, to include replacing eight poles on ramps at the intersection of U.S. 78 and Highway 11. The cost for the repair is $76,115.25, less than a previous cost estimate of $100,000. Two spare poles would be ordered in case of future damage, such as being hit by a vehicle. City staff told council members that the lighting on the ramps had been broken for years.

Council members discussed a modification made to a development agreement with MAB American regarding the Monroe Pavilion retail development project. The Pavilion will be located between Highway 11 and Charlotte Rowell Boulevard.

The modification pertains to the cost and installation of the southern route water line. The city’s cost for the line will be capped at $1.6 million, and MAB American will be responsible for its design, engineering and construction in consultation with the city.

“We’re moving in the right direction with these guys and this will be fruitful for the city of Monroe and our business partners over at MAB,” City Administrator Logan Propes said.

The City Council held a second reading of a proposed amendment to its ordinance on the possession of marijuana ordinance. City attorney Paul Rosenthal said the proposed amendment was simply meant to “clean up” language in the ordinance.

During the council’s meeting in February, District 5 Councilman Norman Garrett asked about the penalty for marijuana possession of 1 ounce or less within the city. The ordinance’s maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 and six-month confinement, Rosenthal then explained.

The city attorney told Garrett last month that most violators of this ordinance were fined an average of $750 as long as there were no aggravating circumstances.

Garrett had said he would like to discuss the matter further, to possibly consider the viability of a flat fine.

Mayor John Howard announced in his March 2 meeting update that a decriminalization of marijuana committee has been formed to study the issue, and would hold its first meeting in May. Garrett was asked to participate on the committee.

This committee would analyze fines and other penalties regarding marijuana possession, and does not mean marijuana would be legalized by the city, according to Rosenthal. The attorney clarified the city of Monroe committee’s role when he spoke to the Social Circle City Council Thursday night about their issues with that city’s possession of marijuana ordinance.

Both cities’ current ordinances are similar and need further review before amendments can be made, he said.

Monroe City Council Members were also briefed on a proposed intergovernmental agreement between Monroe and Loganville and Walton County to conduct enhanced aerial photometrics at a cost of $20,166.05 that would be paid over a three-year period.

The two cities have worked with the Walton County tax assessor on the photometric study, which will assist the assessor’s office in conducting property appraisals, according to Propes.

The county would pay for 60% of the study, and each city would pick up 20% of the cost, Propes said.

In other city business, curbside recycling will transition from bins to 65-gallon carts. The carts should be delivered to the city the week of March 22, and are scheduled for delivery to participating customers the week of April 5, according to Solid Waste Director Danny Smith. Smith described the carts as “Pepsi blue” in color and said a list of acceptable recyclables will be posted on top of each cart.

The City Council also agreed to set this year’s Great American Clean Up for April 19-23 on next week’s consent agenda. Any resident living inside the city limits can bring trash, scrap metals or no more than 10 tires free of charge to the city’s transfer station at 213 Cherry Hill Drive during the cleanup.

For the hours of operation, call 770-266-5148.

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