Manchester's 12-year-old sewer epic continues Residents voice anger at meeting NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

December 16, 1992|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Manchester's sewer saga, which has dragged on for more than 12 years, is still ruffling feathers.

Some residents are angry because they will have to hook up to the town sewer system. Other residents are unhappy because they can't.

"We're being hosed," said Laura Schmidt, a Charmil Drive resident who is happy with her septic system.

Her husband, John Schmidt, didn't attend the last Town Council meeting, where sewers were discussed, because he had to work.

"If I had been at the meeting," he said, "I'd have thrown chairs."

Mr. Schmidt said the sewer plan had already devalued the family's property by $12,000, the cost of hooking up.

Meanwhile, other residents say that, if they have to join the sewer eventually anyway, they may as well join now while interest rates and construction rates are relatively low.

Pat Shea, who lives on Southwestern Avenue, said, "I think it's a good thing to have, but we've got to find a way to lower the cost."

"If I'm going to have to go," he said, "I might as well go now if I can get financing for it."

In the late 1970s, the town set about enlarging and upgrading its sewage treatment system.

Steve Miller, superintendent of Manchester's water and sewer department, said the planning began because the town's old plant was treating 230,000 gallons a day, near its daily capacity of 250,000 gallons.

Phase I of the sewer project was the enlargement of the plant to a capacity of 500,000 gallons a day. That part of the project is done.

Phase II of the project was the construction of the North and South Pumping Stations, to pump sewage to the expanded plant. Those pumping stations are completed. The North Pumping Station is working.

However, there was no state money available to build a sewer main to hook up to the South Pumping Station, and it sits unused.

Phase III is the construction of new spray fields for the discharge of sewage effluent. They were supposed in use this fall, Mr. Miller said, but bad weather and other problems have delayed their operation until March 1, 1993.

Meanwhile, last year, the state sued Manchester for not using the South Pumping Station, which was built with state money. The town is now subject to a fine of $200 a day until it starts using the station.

The town doesn't expect to have to pay the fine if it can get the station working. Its response has been to look into expanding sewer service to parts of southern Manchester. The newly served homes would feed into the South Pumping Station.

Town manager Terry Short said he knows of three failing septic systems in the area. He said sewers will have to be run out there eventually to preserve the quality of well water.

"If we don't do something and the water goes bad," he said, "their houses are worth nothing."

This fall, Mr. Short called a series of meetings with residents of Park Avenue, Hilltop Drive, Southwestern Avenue, Valley View Court, Jeanne Drive and Charmil Drive.

They were told the town was considering running a sewer line up Charmil Drive to serve the whole area.

Residents were told that, if the line were built, homeowners along the affected streets might have to pay as much as $12,600 to hook up to the sewer system.

The $12,600 estimate includes:

* The $2,700 fee charged by the town for sewer hookup;

* An estimated $6,900 for sewer main construction, per lot; and

* Up to $3,000 per lot to connect the home to the sewer main.

But plans changed significantly at the Dec. 8 meeting of the Town Council, when Charles Hollman, an attorney for Manchester Farms developers, offered the town a deal on behalf of his client.

The developer offered to pay the cost of engineering the sewer for the whole length of Charmil Drive.

That represents an outlay of $30,000 to $35,000, Mr. Short said.

The developer also offered to pick up the cost of construction of the sewer main, except for $2,000 per lot, for Charmil Drive residents between Route 30 and Jermar Drive.

This part of the offer could save residents of lower Charmil Drive about $5,000 per lot in sewer construction costs.

Yesterday, Mr. Hollman said the developer agreed to expand slightly the scope of the engineering it would pay for. The offer now includes engineering for part of Southwestern Avenue, and from the end of Charmil Drive along Route 30 to the South Pumping Station.

In return for all this, the developer would receive an assurance from the town that it could build up to 310 single-family houses on 220 acres in Manchester Farms.

The developer would also be allowed to hook those homes up to the town sewage system. The developer would put aside money to reserve that privilege.

Mr. Short said that if the developer doesn't get sewer access, it won't be able to build those homes because much of the ground there isn't suitable for drain field construction.

Other land around Manchester Farms could also be developed once the sewer line was in, Mr. Short said.

"It's really vital for the development of that portion of town," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.