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G'town sells O'Brien property to county

February 10, 2010
The 23-acre tract of land the town of Georgetown purchased several years ago for a proposed wastewater treatment plant has been sold.

The land, known as the O'Brien property, was purchased by the town from the O'Brien family in 2006 for $350,000. A former town council worked to get permits, annex the tract into the town and get zoning approval to build the wastewater treatment plant at the site.

But after Georgetown bought the land east of town and announced its intentions, a group of residents from nearby Edwardsville formed a protest group called Edwardsville Community and worked to stop the annexation, development of the site and the construction of the proposed plant.

The town has a contract with New Albany to dispose of its wastewater but had an agreement with New Albany to build its own plant by 2009. When that plan faltered, the town was obligated to pay a fine of $450,000 to New Albany and endure substantial sewer rate increases. The time frame for the fine and sewer increases were extended to give Georgetown more time to comply with the agreement and build a plant.

Eventually, Floyd County agreed to help the town with a loan if Georgetown would agree to build its plant on the west side of town. Georgetown eventually found another suitable site and applied for and received a $3.5 million federal stimulus grant to build the plant, and an agreement was reached to sell the O'Brien property to Floyd County. The Floyd County Council and Board of Commissioners recently voted unanimously to purchase the site.

"We had about $350,000 in the land itself," Billy Stewart, president of the Georgetown Town Council, said. "Plus, we had about $90,000 in the new bridge that the town had built on the property. And there was a few other small expenses that the town had to pay. We're not gong to make a profit on the sale, but the money we get back will go toward the purchase of the new site, behind the Georgetown Truss Co. I haven't heard for sure what the county's plans are for the O'Brien property. I've heard some speculations but no official announcement yet."

Floyd County is looking at several ideas for the site, but nothing has been decided.

"We don't really have a plan for the property yet," Steve Bush, president of the Floyd County Board of Commissioners, said. "There have been several ideas mentioned, including a youth shelter, a jail or even a county highway department facility, but we haven't nailed anything down yet.

"It's a nice piece of property — with some woods — and it sits back, out of the way. It also has a new bridge on the access road. There's a lot of possibilities for the property, and now that we actually have possession of it, we can start looking at what would be acceptable there, what would best serve the community and the county.

"We'll be working with Don Lopp, the county planner, to come up with workable ideas and look at what would be the best use for the future."

Georgetown has been paying steadily on the mortgage since it purchased the land and now owes less than $25,000 on the property. So, the income from the property will almost completely cover the cost of buying the new site.

"The property we bought west of town, over 70 acres, cost us about the same as the 23-acre O'Brien property," Stewart said.

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