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FLORENCE — D.R. Horton, which has built homes around Johnson Utilities’ notorious Section 11 wastewater plant at Magic Ranch, and now proposes to build homes around Johnson Utilities’ wastewater plant at Anthem, is committed to minimizing any inconvenience to homeowners, a representative told the Town Council Monday.

“We’re selling a lifestyle,” Dan Bono told the council. The council on March 4 tabled action on the final plat for 146 new homes east and south of the Anthem plant, but voted to approve the plat after speaking with Bono Monday.

Councilwoman Michelle Cordes said she was concerned about odor both as a resident and as a Realtor, and asked if D.R. Horton was doing its due diligence to protect residents from odor and spills. Vice Mayor John Anderson asked how Horton and citizens will be protected if Johnson Utilities doesn’t perform.

Bono said it’s a concern for Horton as well, and “we are working with (interim operator) Epcor to improve it as much as possible.”

Town Manager Brent Billingsley told the council that the Anthem plant is only one-quarter completed, and could eventually be built to handle six million gallons per day. It requires a minimum flow to work correctly, and takes some waste that would otherwise be treated at Magic Ranch.

Bono noted the plant is an existing facility, and home buyers will have fair warning that they’re buying near it. They will also sign a disclosure, he said.

The council also held a public hearing and heard the first reading of an ordinance to adopt new impact fees. Impact fees are charged to new residential, commercial and industrial construction to help pay for the added demand on town services. Consultant Carson Bice told the council Monday these fees are not a tax, but “more like a contractual arrangement to build the infrastructure.” No one from the public spoke at the public hearing.

The council adopted a 10-year “Land Use Assumptions and Infrastructure Improvement Plan” and impact fee study on Jan. 7, as a first step toward adopting new fees. The council will hear the second reading of the ordinance and vote on May 7, and the new fees will take effect in August.

Florence’s impact fee on a single-family home, in an area served by Florence utilities, will go up about 3 percent to $9,357. This fee is much less than the amount charged in Goodyear ($18,037), Avondale ($16,888) and Gilbert ($16,374), but more than Coolidge ($7,012). Casa Grande’s proposed new fee is $9,941, according to Bice’s report to the council.

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