Aldermen seek voluntary annexation agreements as first step to potentially costly sewer line project

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 11/20/19

Property owners along the east side of South Fourth Street, south of Jackson to the bottom of the hill, will be receiving a request from Owensville city officials to voluntarily annex their ground as …

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Aldermen seek voluntary annexation agreements as first step to potentially costly sewer line project

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Property owners along the east side of South Fourth Street, south of Jackson to the bottom of the hill, will be receiving a request from Owensville city officials to voluntarily annex their ground as a first step before proceeding with a plan to install a new sewer line to connect their land to the city system.

Who will be paying for the construction of the new line remains to be seen. However, it is apparent, the city wants to avoid a situation like one they had with a prior unincorporated development which annexed into the city limits with a hefty price tag for supplying sewer services. In that case, the city was able to spread out some of the costs of those improvement since there were multiple mobile homes being connected to the system.

In this case, however, only a limited number of residences — perhaps as few as three — will need to be connected. At least one of those residences is occupied by an owner with limited financial means.

“I’m afraid the one person will get hung with this,” cautioned Jeff Kuhne, the city’s public works director.

In a memo sent Thursday to the board, Kuhne noted he and the city’s engineer had originally thought a cost share project would work if the stakeholders in this stretch of road could participate. The city has already paid for the engineering and materials for the project. However, since the early planning stage began, Kuhne feels the “coalition” of neighbors is “showing signs of falling apart and individuals may be backing out.”

Cost estimates for installing the line and making the connections to the three residences in question are estimated at between $30,000 to $45,000.

City staff said Tuesday that each of the properties already receives city water services but they are not connected to city sewer lines. Their sewage drains eventually on to an undeveloped tract of land to the east which is in the city limits and is already zoned for R-5 (planned residential) use.

The owner of the that 4-acre tract, which is accessible off of West Jackson through an alley easement extending south off of South Third Street, wants owners of at least three tracts of land bordering him to the west to cease and desist discharge of their sewer waste onto his property, according to information provided at the meeting. City staff confirmed three properties have issues with sewer discharges onto the tract of land east of them.

The owner of the fourth tract of land, a 3.36-acre parcel located south of (below) the 4-acre tract, did not plan to voluntarily annex their land, The Republican was told.

Owensville aldermen on Monday acknowledged that if the landowners of the unconnected properties do not agree to the annexation, the landowner behind them is likely to force them to connect to a city sewer system via the legal system.

The city ended up being involved in one of those cases several years ago when the Trailwoods mobile home development off of Kuhne Road was brought into the city limits but not before a sewer extension project was mandated to connect each of the sites. Aldermen were reminded by their staff that under revised codes, if anyone wants city services they have to be city residents.

Mayor John Kamler broached that issue saying he and Ward 2 Alderman Rob Borgmann “have had discussions” on the potential annexation of the Landwehr subdivision off of South Fourth Street, south of the proposed sewer extension site.

He added that “Landwehr is next” on his list of projects to see if residents there want to voluntarily annex.

Those residents currently pay double rates for their connections to city water and sewer utilities.

Sewer discharges onto properties within the city limits are not allowed, aldermen were also reminded. Those in violation would be asked to annex voluntarily or face being ordered by a court to hook up to city sewer services.

“In all honesty, we probably have to do something,” said Kuhne. “It’s been going on a long time.”

Aldermen agreed the city should seek voluntary annexation agreements with these property owners as a first step. They voted unanimously on Borgmann’s motion which included the stipulation the agreements be reached within a 30-day period which he cited as “30-day sunset commitment.”

As Borgmann noted, “give a time-line on this or this will drag on forever,” while adding he wanted to avoid another Trailwoods situation.

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