Board awards $28,178 bid to move 16-inch water main into easement

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has adopted a resolution to award a $28,178 bid to relocate a 16-inch water main into an easement.
Board members took the action during their May 16 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Kelly Rector and seconded by Alderman John Troncone.
But the motion was passed by a 3-2 vote, with Troncone and Alderman Karl Chambless approving it, Rector and Alderman Billy Ray Morris abstaining and Mayor Chris Goodman casting the tie-breaker.
The resolution authorizes the mayor to execute a $28,178 contract with the low bidder, Marbury Construction Co. of Denmark, Tenn.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Goodman said the Oakland Planning Commission has approved the construction of a clubhouse and swimming pool on Chickasaw Ridge Drive across from the Water Treatment Plant. But before the construction began, surveyors discovered that a water main is outside of the easement that was set for it, and it must be moved.
“This is essential from a timing perspective,” the mayor noted, “because we don’t want to hold up that construction. And if we don’t move forward, it will.”
Troncone asked whether an investigation was conducted to determine why the water main was not placed in the easement from the start.
Goodman noted that, when the land was originally developed, it was field. He said the developer’s surveyors laid out the easement where the pipe was to be placed, and a contractor was hired to install it according to their specifications.
“An error was made,” the mayor acknowledged. “It was not an error of the town. We specifically followed what was laid out by the developer and its surveying company.”
Goodman said Oakland Public Works Director Harvey Ellis will examine the records to identify the developer and surveying company and determine how much of the relocation cost the town can recoup.
If the developer is even still in business, Troncone said, either the surveyor or the developer could be held accountable.
“Unfortunately, with the economy, a number of developers are no longer in business,” Goodman acknowledged. “If we can find a certified document showing the surveying company and its stamp on it, then we will pursue recouping what we can, if not all of it.”
When Morris asked if Town Attorney Richard Myers has been notified of this, the mayor said he has been given a “recap” until the specific documentation is provided to him.
“Because of the hourly rates,” Goodman noted, “we’re trying to make sure we get all of our paperwork done before we give him a lot to do on it. But it will be turned over to him to ensure that all legal protocol is followed.”
If the construction moves forward, the mayor said the water main will run directly underneath the clubhouse. So, it needs to be moved.
“If not, and there’s a problem with it,” he said, “then we’ll have to pay to tear that building down and fix it. That’s why we want to move it to the easement, where it should have been in the first place.”
In response to a question by Chambless, Goodman said the company that originally developed the subdivision would be “on the hook” for this, not the current builder.
Morris asked if there is anything that the Oakland Codes Enforcement Department can do to stop the construction until the board can obtain additional information. The mayor said he is trying not to stop the construction, because the clubhouse and swimming pool have been planned, and they will “add something” to the community.
“If we can move forward, we’re going to have to spend the money at some point,” he noted. “Even if we recoup it, it will not happen overnight, unfortunately.”
In response to a question by Troncone, Goodman said the money will come from the Water Fund instead of the General Fund, because a water main is involved.
Rector asked whether the board will have to pay any “penalties” if it postpones the relocation. The mayor said the “big concern” is the potential litigation that the current builder could bring against the town if he is prevented from moving forward.
“I’ve not done research on what those litigation costs would be,” he acknowledged. “This came up rather suddenly. I’m just trying to look at all aspects and figure out what we want to do at this point in time.”
Morris and Rector said they were abstaining, because they would like to obtain more information.
After the vote, Chambless said he thinks his fellow aldermen still have a “valid point.” He contended that the board needs to pursue and be aware of as much information as it can generate, whether it is from Myers, Town Engineer Ken King or someone else.
“Most certainly,” Goodman concluded. “All resources will be used.”