EATON — The Preble County Board of Commissioners met with Robert Kohnen from the Landfill and Fred Smith from CDM Smith on Monday, June 11, to discuss a contract for Sewer District Six (SD6).
“We had talked, to give an update, I had presented this to the commissioner weeks ago. I had commented that we were providing the editable word document for the last document from Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission had done,” Kohnen said.
At that point, Smith responded, they cut out a meeting with the EPA, sent documents to the EPA and let them review it.
“So, really, the key to all this, as we’ve talked we have this started, is to have the preliminary area defined. The key is to come back for the first kick off meeting and have everyone on the same page regarding the final area we want [SD6 to encompass],” Smith said. “Make sure everyone is on the same page and don’t make any changes. That really helps us moving forward, with the area we want looked at, because it has really jumped around, with expanding beyond the Glenwood area. We need to narrow that down and move forward.”
Commissioner Rodney Creech asked, “Are you going to decide this area with data?”
“Yes, we can have a recommendation from the area from what we have from the testing data,” Smith said.
There would not be any additional testing before deciding on the area of SD6.
“If we were to look at all the data and the area and we are just deciding where the area will be, don’t we have everything we need? Do we need another report?” Creech asked.
“This is the report to Ohio EPA,” Kohnen said. “The kick off meeting is to define. There has been a focus area and four optional areas. I don’t have a lot of confidence in what was previously done, there were some flaws in some previous reports.”
Smith said, “We do need to update the report. We will be building on what they have, but updating things and making sure we have the system that is overall the least expensive.”
Commissioner Densie Robertson asked about those who might abandon their houses due to cost or those who cannot afford the cost associated with being part of the sewer district.
“We have found that some people do that, but someone else comes in and tears the house down to build a new one, finding that they have a developer site with sewer and you have new residents,” Smith said. “With the sewer, even though some move out, you do see growth. I do not have specific data that shows that, but I have seen it in other communities.”
Kohnen brought up the recent appeal to West Alexandria to use their new Waste Water Treatment Plant, noting that a few council members were exciting by the prospect.
“There could be some expansion or growth outside West Alexandria [if we do this],” he said. “There are some positives.”
Robertson said, “The concern is, once this is in place and people are force to tap in, they find this unaffordable. We can say it is affordable all day long, but that does not mean it is truly affordable to the people who are actually paying the bill. I just want to know we are taking that into effect, because I don’t know if someone abandons their house that there will be someone else to move in.”
According to Smith, there are options to help those who fall under the low to moderate income bracket. He added, SD6 will cost up to $10,000 just to “tap in.” Which is why there are loans and grants available to help with that price.
Creech noted he feels like they’re “penalizing” people by including them into the district when they are “not the issue.” He believes more areas are being included in order to make the project as affordable as possible, but Smith does not agree.
“I think everyone in the area we’re going to recommend are somewhat responsible for the fecal matter we’re finding,” Smith said. “From what we saw, it is fairly widespread.”
Creech countered, there are places that have black water standing in people’s lawns — that is the problem area.
“We saw greys in other areas too,” Smith said. “Maybe that is a focus area, but the problem is widespread.”
From this contract and upcoming meeting, the county will receive a defined area for SD6, updated numbers on question system, treatment options, and further information on cost.
Following the meeting, Commissioner Robertson said, “This sewer project bugs me. Finding a smaller area might prove that it is not affordable to those residents, but if we expand that area to make it affordable, the more higher end houses we included, which means we may not be eligible for grants.”
“I’ve said all along, I think we should only sewer the areas that are the problem,” Creech said. “I’d say lets go as small as we can and go slow.”
The kickoff meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 11, during the PC Board of Commissioners meeting, which is open to the public.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH