At the recessed meeting of the Greene County Commission on Tuesday, September 27, the Courthouse was packed with people who came to hear what was going to happen to sewer services if a new bingo facility opened on CR 208 in the old Hardee’s location.
Prior to the Commission meeting, Greenetrack CEO Luther Winn brought to the attention of the Commission Chair Nick Underwood that a bingo license had been granted to allow another bingo outlet to open in the old Hardee’s facility on County Road 208.
Sheriff Joe Benison’s records indicate that the Center for Rural Development was issued a license on August 26, 2011.
Winn pointed out that the sewage agreement allowed current businesses and residences to use the sewer lines and lagoon owned by Greenetrack and the County. According to Winn this same agreement precluded any new business opening and connecting to the 208 Corridor sewer line that would have an adverse effect on Greenetrack’s operations.
Underwood secured an agreement from the new bingo licensee, the Center for Rural Family Development (CFRFD), to delay its opening date until these concerns were addressed at the Commission’s September 27 meeting.
The main issue is whether or not Greenetrack has the authority to legally shut off the sewer lines to the lagoon which service that area.
County records indicate that the Greene County Commission and Greenetrack, Inc. jointly own the real property on which the sewer lines and lagoon are located.
In March of 2001, there was a 10-year agreement signed between the Greene County Commission and Greenetrack, Inc. granting the Greene County Water and Sewer Authority, Inc. permission to run sewer lines across the jointly owned land to the jointly owned Lagoon. The terms of the agreement were for 10 years with option to renew.
This agreement apparently was not renewed. The right to use the lagoon and the easement expired on March 26, 2011.
According to Commission Attorney Hank Sanders, since no agreement is currently in place, the Greene County Water and Sewer Authority has no right to run any lines or use the lagoon for anyone without the permission of the Greene County Commission and Greenetrack, Inc. Sanders explained, however, that a new agreement can be negotiated between the three parties (Greene County Commission, Greenetrack, Inc. and the Greene County Water Authority, Inc.) at any time.
Greenetrack, represented by Attorney Gail Pugh Bratton, came before the commission to protest that should a new bingo establishment located on 208 be allowed to open, it would be a violation of the agreement between the three entities.
This new establishment is licensed through a non profit, the Center for Rural Family Development.
Bratton emphasized that while existing businesses and homes located on the corridor had been allowed access to these sewer lines, Greenetrack has no obligation to allow competition to use its property.
County Commission Chair Nick Underwood asked that a new agreement for sewage use be signed and argued that Greene County Sheriff Joe Benison (who was not present at the meeting) had sole authority to issue certificates to operate bingo facilities.
Underwood also questioned why Greenetrack would not allow the new business to use the lines and lagoon when that same site operating as Hardee’s restaurant was allowed to do so.
Bratton’s answer was that Hardee’s did not adversely impact the expansion and growth of Greenetrack.
She explained that in April of 2011, Greenetrack gave Greene County $250,000 for the annual lease of the county’s portion of the jointly-owned land. This arrangement has been in effect since 2005.
Bratton explained that Greenetrack is prepared to discuss a new lease with the County and the Water and Sewage Authority considering only the current businesses and residences on the sewage line. She emphasized that Greenetrack is not amenable to adding a new business that would be competitive and adversely affect Greenetrack’s operations.
Underwood asked if there was any way to reconcile these differences and was answered by Bratton with an adamant no.
He then asked her how she felt the State of Alabama would react.
“Given that you are fighting against the State, why would you allow another bingo facility to come in. We are in a fight with the State. This is not the climate to bring in a competing entity.”
During the conversation which followed, Val Goodson, representing CFRFD, explained that the proposed new bingo facility would have up to 150 machines and the employees would be volunteers from the CFRFD, which paid its volunteers stipends. She estimated the number of employee/volunteers would be 16 or 17.
In responding to various questions, Goodson said she felt that Greene Charity Bingo could co-exist with Greenetrack.
Following the presentations and further discussions, Underwood asked the commission how the issue could be brought to a resolution.
A motion was offered by Commissioner Elzora Fluker to allow all current and future businesses and residences on the 208 Corridor to access sewage service to the lagoon. The vote was 3-1 with Underwood abstaining and Tennyson Smith voting no.
Earlier in the meeting Underwood disclosed that his sister worked for Greenetrack and this could present the perception of a conflict of interest.
Following the vote, Underwood asked the other commissioners to allow him to continue to seek a resolution of this issue.
Greenetrack’s attorney repeated their position that if the new bingo facility opens, Greenetrack was prepared to use the shut-off valve.
In other business, the commission:
*Approved a resolution changing the method of presenting fund balances.
*Approved the Budget Amendment for the 2010-2011 year end budget.
*Approved a contract with Gemini Computer services for the Probate Judge.
*Appointed Reginald Spencer to the 911 Board.
*Approved an agreement between Alabama Department of Youth Services for a one day detention subsidy for juveniles.
*Approved a 30 day amnesty period for solid waste users to be advertised in the newspaper.
*Approved an agreement between ALDOT and Greene County for resurfacing and guard rail installation on CR 131.
*Approved travel for the County Engineer and Assistant Engineer to an Engineer Fall Meeting at Prattville on October 17-18,
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TagsAlabama New South Coalition ANSC Bingo disbursement Black Farmer Lawsuit CEO Luther"Nat" Winn CFO Paula Bird Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Dr. Martin Luther King Eutaw City Council Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) Federation of Southern Cooperatives /Land Assistance Fund Fund First Lady Michelle Obama George Zimmerman Greene Co. Sheriff Joe Benison Greene County Board of Education Greene County Commission Greene County Commissioner Greene County High School Greene County School System Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison Greene County Superintendent Dr. Emma Louie Greenetrack Greenetrack Bingo Inc John Zippert Jr. Lester Brown Mayor Hattie Edwards Mayor Pro-Tem Hattie Edwards Mayor Raymond Steele Mitt Romney NAACP Nick Underwood President Barack Obama President Obama Rev. Al Sharpton SCLC Senator Hank Sanders Superintendent Emma Louie Superintendent Isaac Atkins Supreme Court The Black Belt Community Foundation BBCF Grants Trayvon Martin Vice President Joe Biden