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Questions, concerns delay vote on Springdale Township sewer ordinance

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Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
 

Residents' questions and concerns about the costs and details of a new sewage system in their Springdale Township neighborhood caused the township commissioners on Wednesday to delay approving regulations that would be imposed upon them for it.

The commissioners held the special meeting solely to vote on the sanitary sewer district ordinance, but took no action. Chairman George Manning said township officials will continue to discuss the project's details with residents.

The system would serve 17 properties on Melzina and Adeline that now use septic systems.

Some residents of the area are frustrated with township officials, who they say are not answering their questions or giving them information, including how much the system is going to cost each of them. They were happy the ordinance was not enacted.

“At least we get a break,” said Jack Burns of Melzina Street. “This whole thing has been a nightmare.”

“They still have no answers,” said his wife, Mariana. “We're still at square one.”

Krista Kochosky, an attorney representing the residents, said she has had difficulty getting documents and information from the township.

“I am glad that the board decided to revisit the ordinance before adopting it,” she said. “I hope the comments and criticisms of the residents were well-received by the board.”

The commissioners ultimately agreed with Kochosky, who said the ordinance could not be enacted without current and accurate cost information.

The commissioners initially said the ordinance could be changed if needed. Residents asked why they'd enact an ordinance knowing it would have to be changed.

As Kochosky reviewed the project's costs as listed, commissioners said there were several that were either lower than stated or not incurred at all.

Commissioner Ken Igo asked what the harm would be in waiting.

“We need to at least have final costs,” he said.

A significant cost that may change is if the township allows residents to buy their own grinder pump rather than use one provided by the township.

The system being installed requires each home to have its own grinder pump, which each homeowner has to pay to operate and maintain.

Manning said this was found to be the most cost-effective system for the area.

Residents are saying they can buy pumps for less on their own than if they are included in the project. Manning said township officials are open to talking about the pumps.

Such a discussion had already taken place over the lateral lines — pipes that carry sewage between the home and curb.

Residents said they could get the work done for less on their own; the township acquiesced and took lateral lines out of the project.

Kochosky objected to a provision that would allow the township to go onto a homeowner's property to repair the grinder pump and bill the cost back to the homeowner if the homeowner fails to maintain it. Solicitor Steve Yakopec agreed, and commissioners were going to remove that provision.

While it's not yet known what the system will cost homeowners, the ordinance has a provision for a payment plan.

Kochosky said that should be granted automatically, rather than residents having to apply for it.

The township received a $200,000 grant from county toward the project. Kochosky said the township could seek more funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection to further lower the cost to residents; Manning said the township would look into it.

Kochosky and Manning agreed that the goal is to get the cost to residents as low as possible.

“We're going to listen to what they have to say,” Manning said. “I think we are working for the residents. I'm confident in the end we'll be able to resolve our issues.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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