UNION BRIDGE — They were not part of the problem and they don't want to be part of the solution.
Four homeowners on the east side of Union Bridge Road north of town must cap working wells and tap into the town system because their neighbors face a loss of water.
Their properties will be annexed by the town along with those of 25 others, whose water supply comes from Bowman Springs.
When the owner of the spring, a 60-year-old private water system, decided to quit the business, his customers turned to the town for help. The townoffered annexation, which becomes final Friday, and access to its water system.
"We are in favor of helping our neighbors," said the Rev. Donald G. Brown, one of the four, who has lived here for 15 years. "We just don't want to sacrifice the investments made in our systems."
Following annexation, the town is requiring all residents of the 14-acre area to hook into the 1,800 feet of pipeline, to be laid north along Main Street, above Elmer Wolfe Elementary, and continue along Union Bridge Road and Honeysuckle Lane.
Newly annexed residents will pay town property taxes of 68 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $369 on an average $136,000 home, in addition to county taxes.
Brown and three other homeowners are saying "no, thank you" to townwater, a $1,000 hookup fee and the costs of running connecting linesto their homes.
"We are receiving zero benefits from this situation," said Brown at an Oct. 21 hearing on the annexation. "But we are willing to go along, if the town waives our expenses."
Mayor PerryL. Jones Jr. said the final decision rests with the council. Memberscould vote on a solution at the next session, Dec. 30.
"I am not in favor of granting waivers," Jones said. "In the past, when the town has done that, it has led to problems."
In an Oct. 31 letter to the council, Brown wrote, "The people, who are not in the Bowman Springs addition and have no need for the service, are the very ones who pay the most. There is a great inequity in the cost to those who do not need the service."
Brown is asking the council to "provide equity across the board" to the residents, who will lose efficient systems and bear the cost of capping them.
Brown, Harless M. Reid, DorisJ. Greenwood and James L. Osborn have signed a proposal asking the town to:
* Waive the hookup fee and pay their connection costs.
* Or, grant them an exemption and allow them to continue using their private systems.
The proposal says they will not resort to litigation if the town meets either option.
"Litigation is a possibility," said Brown. "But we don't want to use it as a threat."
Brown said he sees the concessions from the town as a more amiable solution.
"A few of us are carrying a disproportionate amount of the financial burden here," he said. "We made our investments in good systems years ago. Why should all that go down the drain?"
Litigation would not call a halt to the project, the mayor said.