Looming rate hike likely to double Lewisburg customers’ bills

An upcoming sewer rate increase before the Ronceverte City Council will likely be “a major game-changer in many ways,” Mayor John Manchester said during the Lewisburg City Council meeting Tuesday night. Estimating his own water use, the mayor said the rate increase for the new plant will likely double Lewisburg residents’ utility bills.

The mayor anticipates the ordinance will pass and that it will have a big effect on economic growth in the area as well as for industries considering relocating to Greenbrier County. Lewisburg cannot protest the rate hike directly since it pays to the Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC maintains that other sewer plant options are available to Ronceverte that are more affordable instead of the expensive plant they have chosen to build. With approximately 2,200 Lewisburg customers on the sewer, more than there are Ronceverte residents, it will fall to the Lewisburg residents to bear the brunt of the cost of the new sewer plant.

On other business:

• In Zoning Officer Tony Hinkle’s Planning Commission report, a conditional use permit request to serve food and alcoholic drinks on the deck of a proposed restaurant at Montwell Park by Appalachian Mountain Advocates raised “red flags” for council members. Council member Josh Baldwin questioned how a nonprofit organization can serve alcohol in a location where there also will be a teen center which raised concerns for the council. The project appeared to be different from what was described by owners Joe Lovett and Florian Schleiffin their initial presentation.

Manchester said the conditional permit would be a first step to applying for an alcoholic beverage permit with the state board. “We have no say in the matter if the food and beverages were to be served only inside the restaurant,” the mayor added.

Council also questioned the two entity names given for the property owners of the site, one being Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the other Greenbrier Restoration Group. Council member Baldwin moved to table the application, stating he “didn’t like this surprise” since there had been no mention of alcohol on the premises when AMA had first presented their plans for the former Fort Savannah property. The mayor said we need to meet with Lovett and Schleiff for clarity on their objectives.

• Council member Baldwin reported from the Parks Commission about the need for better lighting for the skate park. He also posed the possibility of Lewisburg as a bike-friendly town should the council be amenable. Both items are under consideration by council.

• The Lewisburg Farmers Market’s final market day will be the second Saturday in November. A Harvest Dinner will be hosted by the LFM at the Lewisburg United Methodist Church on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. and will be open to all.

• Council member Joseph Lutz announced the downtown merchants will have treats for Trick or Treaters on Oct. 31, on Halloween night from 5 to 6 p.m. before the regular trick or treating through Lewisburg neighborhoods from 6 to 8 p.m.

• The mayor said the Dept. of Highways has offered a one-month trial test of a No Left Turn on Washington Street from Jefferson Street during the month of November twice a day from 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. to see how it improves traffic flow during high congestion periods.

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