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LC Planning Commission Nixes Punkin’s Request to Lift Moratorium

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

The Punkin Water Tower located on Highway 6. Photo by Briana Florez

The Punkin Water Association asked members of the Lafayette County Planning Commission Monday to support its effort to have a moratorium put on development lifted; however, the commission voted to deny the request.

The moratorium was placed by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors in July 2018. While the Planning Commission could not remove that moratorium, Jason Butts, president of the board of directors for PWA, asked the commission to recommend removing the moratorium to the Supervisors.

The moratorium does not allow Punkin to issue “will serve” letters and no developments are considered for preliminary plat approval.

Butts said there are about 150 “will serve” letters that were issued just before the moratorium was put into place that he would like to see developers be able to start their process of having preliminary plans approved.

“We are holding back developers from starting that process,” Butts said. “It will be six to 12 months before they even break ground … We’re not asking for more development to come here.”

The maximum number of connections Punkin can have is 1,190. There are about 875 existing customers. The maximum number of meters cannot increase until Punkin increases its capacity.

In April 2018, residents who receive water from the Punkin Water Association voiced their concerns about water quality and poor management before Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley at a public meeting.

After the meeting, Punkin was required to make improvements to existing wells, as well as requiring the association to be more transparent and having a plan in place to flush all lines, which Butts said Monday will be done later in the fall when it’s cooler and there’s a lesser demand for water.

Last year, the city of Oxford agreed to enter into an agreement with PWA via a master meter connection allowing PWA to purchase between 50,000 and 250,000 gallons of water daily.

That agreement included requiring PWA to put a water main at University Avenue and Highway 334, which would cost about $600,000.

Butts said PWA was “close” to having a signed agreement with Oxford and receiving funding for the project.

PWA has until Dec. 31 to have an agreement and the funding in place, or another alternative plan, like digging a new well which would cost about $2 million.

One resident, Max Hill, said the request from PWA was “grossly premature” and that several residents still have water quality issues regularly.

“When the aquifer is taxed, that’s when you get brown water,” he told the commission.

He asked the commission to table the request to remove the moratorium until after the PWA had a signed agreement with the city of Oxford and has completed flushing all of its lines; which they did unanimously.

PWA can appeal the decision by the Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors.

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