The Inverness City Council will consider Tuesday taking its next step in plans to take 540 septic tanks off line in the South Highlands area after the city received an additional $10 million last week to make up for rising construction costs.
The $32.3 million plan would involve 46,500 feet of new gravity sewer lines and another 22,400 feet of forced sewer lines, and 14 powered lift stations to provide 751 residential family lots municipal sewer services.
Also as part of the plan, nine miles of road and rights of way are expected to be impacted and the city will have to buy five properties to install the lift stations.
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During the city council’s regularly scheduled public meeting 5:30 p.m., Tuesday at 212 West Main St. in the Inverness government center, council members will decide whether to accept the Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant agreement and allow the city manager to initiate work on the project.
The FDEP grant (called the Protecting Florida Together Grant) during fiscal 2021-22 was for $11,148,750.
“(But) it was quickly realized this project well exceeded the initial award,” wrote City Manager Eric Williams wrote his council bosses as part of the meeting’s agenda packet.
“Through negotiations with FDEP an additional $10,000,000 has been awarded for funding by the FDEP Springs Restoration Fund to cover remaining phases of the project and cost of material increases realized following submittal of the initial grant application,” Williams wrote. “With the additional funding the total awarded grant amount was increased to $21,148,750, of this total the city is obligated to provide $11,148,750 in matching funds.”
“A corresponding budget amendment will be presented at a future meeting of council to appropriate the matching funds accordingly,” he wrote.
Also, the council is expected to finalize an agreement with FDEP for a $3,264,800 grant. The grant, along with $816,200 from the city, will be used to take 67 septic tanks offline and provide municipal sewer services. About half the septic tanks are commercial.
A total of 116 parcels would be impacted by the project and would include 14,500 feet of sewer lines, three lift stations, and potentially buying one property.
Also in city business, the council will take its second and final vote on requiring businesses to install monument-style signs if they take down their existing signs on a pole.
The proposed ordinance passed unanimously during its first of two hearings two weeks ago.
Currently, the city allows commercial signs up to 80 square feet and up to 25 feet in height off the ground
The new ordinance, if approved, would limit signs to 64 square feet and no more than 10 feet in height and require signs to be in the monument style.
Greg Rice, Inverness’ community development director, told the council two weeks ago that city business owners didn’t want to be forced to change their signs.
As a compromise, Rice said the proposed ordinance allows current signs on poles be left as they are and businesses can repair them if damaged. But if a new business is built and the owner wants a sign, they would only be allowed to display a monument sign.
If a current business changes and needs a new sign, then the ordinance would require the new signage appearance. The new ordinance, if approved, also wouldn’t allow the business owner to move his sign on a pole to another location.
Fred Hiers is a reporter at the Citrus Chronicle. Email him at email@example.com.