Several people show up for community meeting on possible wastewater treatment plant


OOLTEWAH, Tenn. (WDEF) – It was a fire hall that was so packed Thursday night that not everyone could fit inside.

What brought so many people in is the threat over a possible wastewater treatment plant to be built in Ooltewah.

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A plan that caught many residents off guard.

“Think about the questions you might have. We’re concerned about smell. We’re concerned about the environment. We’re concerned about Savannah Bay. We’re concerned about property values. Most of these people here are reasonable people. We don’t like to be surprised by what’s happening,” Evann Gibson said.

The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority looked at 16 sites for a treatment plant, but have put 7800 Mahan Gap Road in the forefront as the location.

“For me, the reason we chose this site was, again, the cost. We can look at alternate sites and some of them will be better and some of them won’t, but all of them would cost the rate payer more,” Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority Executive Director Mark Harrison said.

While the WWTA sees the plant as an option to help with immediate and future needs in the area, some people questioned whether the authority took into consideration the residents who would be living near the possible site.

“Snow Hill Elementary School is less than half a mile from this site. Ooltewah Elementary School is probably a mile as the crow flies and I think, and I would say Mayor, Commissioner, we know that a treatment plant is needed for growth. We know that, and I don’t think anyone here would deny that. I think what most people here are saying, can we not find, even if it’s more expensive, find a less populated place to put it,” Hamilton County School Education Board Chairman Steve Highlander said. “I’m concerned for the health of the children, as well as the local people.”

One person at the meeting says he would pledge $10,000 to litigation.

“A lawsuit would be costly, or could be costly. I’d rather avoid a lawsuit if we could, because I would personally rather handle something like this without involving attorneys,” Harrison said.

The next community meeting will be on the 23rd.