Some Columbia County homeowners bordering the city of Harlem are saying the annexation proposal vetoed by the Governor isn’t over just yet.
They believe a waterline is just a stepping stone for the annexation proposal to end up back on the governor’s desk.
At the Columbia County Commission meeting, the board approved the Clary Cut Waterline project with a budget of $700,000.
The project is a waterline that will connect through Clary Cut Road to the Harlem city limits.
One Clary Cut Road Homeowner, Benjamin Lyda, who attended the meeting, says, “I don’t want anything to do with Harlem.”
Those living along Clary Cut Road are accepting of Columbia County’s water services.
County Administrator, Scott Johnson, says, “this is going to be an in-house Columbia County project. We are not bidding this out. We are going to be doing it with our own crews.”
The governor’s vetoed annexation that would have doubled Harlem’s city limits almost rezoned their property, and they are on high alert it could happen again.
Clary Cut Road Homeowner, Charles Masters, says, “they’re trying to go all the way to I-20, and they are using Prather to do it. They are using his properties to reach there. And what they are doing is trying to take pieces of puzzles and make it match up where they can connect all the way to I-20.”
State Representative Barry Fleming told NewsChannel 6 the reason for the annexation was for sewer and water south of I-20. Well, the annexation was vetoed, and the motion for the waterline is still moving forward.
“We did say that if it wasn’t done this year that we were going to move forward with the waterline,” says Johnson.
So, annexation or not, the waterline was going to happen.
Since Columbia County sells water to Harlem, Clary Cut Road neighbors are making sure they are only purchasing the County’s water. They say Harlem’s surcharge is too high.
“There’s a base rate, but it’s over $7.00 a thousand, and for us that same rate would be about $3.11,” says Johnson.
Despite the concerns of those who live on Clary Cut Road, Columbia County wants to work with Harlem.
“We are very interested in working with Harlem. This isn’t a Harlem vs. Columbia County thing,” says Johnson.
Columbia County’s District 4 Commissioner, Dewey Galeas, says this project will not add a tax rate to those impacted. It will give those who live near a fire hydrant better insurance rates.