Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Council to take up Miller's $10,875 water fee refund

Jeff Miller the business owner got into the Hendersonville City Council race in part because he believed the city's commercial water impact fees were outrageously high.


He won.
On Thursday the Council will take up his two-year-old request for a refund of a $10,875 impact fee he paid when he moved a large volume laundry operation from his King Street store to 1620 Brevard Road.
Miller campaigned openly against the high impact fee during the election season, and the council voted to lower the so-called system development charge before he was even elected.
JeffMillerHeadShotJeff MillerCity Manager John Connet put Miller's request on this week's agenda, supported by water department records showing that his laundry business overall had lowered its total water use.
"Miller's Laundry and Cleaners has requested that the City of Hendersonville refund the System Development Charge that they paid in September 2011, when they established the new facility to serve summer camps at 1620 Brevard Road," Connet said in a memo to the council. "They base this request on the fact that they relocated an existing operation from their King Street location and installed new water efficient equipment that reduced their total water usage among all operations. They were told that they could request a refund from City Council once they were in operation for a period of time to prove that their water usage had decreased."
Miller said the city is following through on a promise that City Manager Bo Ferguson made when he objected to the impact fee in 2011. Miller had already paid a system development charge and hookup fees when he moved his laundry operation from Laurel Park Village across Brevard Road.
"They charged me $12,000 to move my meter across the street," he said. "I protested that one but they said you either pay it or you don't get water and sewer."
The city again charged him an impact fee when he moved the summer camp laundry work to Brevard Road. When he threatened to sue, Ferguson persuaded him to hold off, promising that the city would look at his water use over time, Miller said.
City records confirmed that he is using less water now than he was two years ago.
"I tried to stay certainly at arm's length from it," he said of the pending council action. "I have not talked to a single council member about it other than the general discussion about why I entered the whole campaign. This goes back over two years to when Bo was here and it was the second time I was charged to move a meter."
Miller agreed with the city manager that he can't be involved as a council member when the item comes up.
"Councilman Jeff Miller will have to be excused from the discussion and voting on this matter due to his direct financial interest in this matter," Connet said. "Once the City Council votes to excuse him from this matter, it is recommended that he vacate his seat to make his request from the podium."
Miller's case is similar to a request that Boyd Chevrolet made when it moved its dealership to a location that had been home to a trailer park, carwash, laundromat and restaurant. Because they would be using far less water than the previous businesses, the Boyds argued they should not be charged an impact fee that is designed to pay for water and sewer treatment capacity improvements caused by greater use. The City Council agreed. It waived a $6,478 impact fee.
"Reason dictates that if you remove a big load and replace it with a smaller load you ought to get a bonus or at least not be charged more," Miller said.