GALLIPOLIS — Debbie Drive residents met with Stantec representatives, county officials and contractors Thursday to discuss the Green Township sewer line project.
C.J. Hughes Contracting, along with Fields Excavating, arrived as well as a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Gary Silcott and Tracy Shoults with the engineering firm Stantec answered questions and concerns from Debbie Drive residents.
Beth Frazier, a resident of Debbie Drive, shared many of the same concerns with the engineers as residents had the previous Thursday with members of the Gallia County Board of Commissioners. Commission members were present for the meeting and addressed the audience as best they could.
According to Frazier’s estimates, it could potentially cost her around $26,000 to have her land prepared to connect with the new sewer line.
Residents feel the situation is unfair as they must pay the costs required to tap into the new sewer line system. Some residents =feel they haven’t had the chance to learn when and where taps were going in. Gallia County Commission President Harold Montgomery told crowd members that county officials had done the best they could with conducting public meetings to address such concerns.
Silcott and commission vice president David Smith explained that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had levied a fine against the county for what the agency claims to be aging and ailing water line systems that need replaced. The fine is more than $300,000. The agency is effectively mandating the sewer line system update.
County officials said their intent was not to harm residents when the plan was initiated. Silcott said it may be beneficial to share a sewer line with a neighbor to lower costs for Debbie Drive residents, but it also concerned him how matters would work out legally down the road if new owners purchased homes from previous owners.
One contractor Debbie Drive residents had spoken with in regard to working on their private properties also attended the meeting to direct questions at the sewer line project supervisors. He seemed concerned with foundations of homes and digging near them considering the depths to which a sewer line would need laid to accommodate home basements and how that might effect home foundations.
County officials and Stantec told Debbie Drive residents they would do the best they could to work with them “within the specifications of the project.” Ultimately, it seems that whatever construction is must be done on private residents’ land will hold the contractor liable. The county and its contracted representatives will work within the few yards allotted to them along the roadside due to right-of-way laws. They sewer project workers are still constrained by budget and legal concerns.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.