Christopher Burchell 0

Deny Tifton Utilities to the High-Density Out-of-Town Development at 2819 Rainwater

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We ask the Tifton City Council to deny any request to enable a high-density housing project at 2918 Rainwater Road through an extension of the city’s water and sanitary sewer systems. The proposed development, if built, would create new flood risk for downstream areas of Tifton, threaten groundwater quality, and bring new levels of traffic to Tifton’s Rainwater Road. Denying the utilities extension, by contrast, would preserve the possibility for the land to be redirected toward common goals of flood resiliency, groundwater protection, or community beautification.

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This Development Should Be Stopped

High density housing on this site would bring risks and problems the Tifton City Council should help us all to avoid.

Flooding Threat

The open ground and pond on this site slow down and absorb the water that flows to it from the neighborhoods to its north, the street to its south, and the creek to its east. That would change with a dense housing development built on the site. Its parking lots and building roofs would repel water downhill. Any time the planned retention pit fills up, water would continue downstream along Kaycee Drive, under or over Carpenter Road, and into the creek north of Pine Wood Drive. Many properties in the path of this diverted water already run elevated risks of flood according to

2609 Kaycee Drive scores 9 out of 10.

  • Flood risks are increasing as the environment and weather patterns change. Flooding could damage this home. Within the next 15 years, this property has a 96% chance of 1 inch of flood water reaching the building at least once.

115 Pinewood Drive scores 8 out of 10.

  • Flood risk is increasing for this property. Within the next 15 years, this property has a 96% chance of 1 inch of flood water reaching the building at least once.

101, 105, 109, 117, and 121 Pinewood Drive all score 7 out of 10.

  • Flood risk is increasing for this property. Within the next 15 years, this property has a 96% chance of 1 inch of flood water reaching the building at least once.

Covering up land upstream from these properties, which lie inside the City of Tifton, would introduce new flood risk to Tifton citizens’ private property and the City’s infrastructure.

Traffic Density

Rainwater Road is a narrow two-lane blacktop with no shoulder and sharp drop-offs into drainage ditches along most of its length into Tifton. It already struggles to accommodate the mix of car, truck, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic that travels it every day. People use Rainwater to access the UGA-Tifton campus, an institution vital to our economy and our heritage of agricultural progress. This proposed development would bring more traffic to Rainwater Road. Almost 0.8 miles of the road is inside the City of Tifton. There is no concurrent plan to upgrade the road’s capacity.

Lost Water and Sewer Capacity

The city's utility infrastructure has limited capacity in reserve. An extension of service to this Rainwater development would dramatically cut into this reserve capacity. It would add the equivalent of a whole village of customers and bring that area of the system closer to its operational capacity.

If that reserve capacity is spent on this project outside the city, less water and wastewater capacity will remain to serve nearby sites in the city zoned for residential development.

The City of Tifton Has the Power to Deny the Extension of its Sewer

An extension of the city’s sewer system to serve a proposed development of multiple structures requires the approval of the City Council. (An extension like this is called an “economic extension” in both the code of Tift County and the code of the City of Tifton.) The city has clearly reserved for itself the right to deny sewer extensions when it is in the best interest of Tifton’s citizens and long-term planning needs. If the city denies application for sewer extension, a dense housing development would be impossible to build on this site. A creek runs right through the middle of this parcel of land making a large septic system untenable.

The Developer’s Plan and Progress

The county commissioners voted to change the zoning in 2020 and approved a plan to build up to 77 housing units and 139 parking spots on the property. In March, an out-of-county developer bought the property and has apparently taken over the project. The nearly 7-acre property has been cleared of its pecan and pine trees. As of Easter, the creek, pond, and some trees remain. The land is damaged from the heavy equipment used to cut down and drag away the trees. Soil has begun to erode where trees and shrubs have been removed.

The Land Could Serve the Community if the Development Stops

Even after most of its trees have been removed, the site still provides important value to the area if it remains largely undeveloped. The potential uses the land for the land, should development be blocked, could bring even more value to our whole community. Green space, habitat restoration, agriculture, permaculture, and flood mitigation are all uses for the site that the community could pursue if given the chance.

Contact the Tifton City Council through their webpage:

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