The commission voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve the extension of a 10-inch sewer line from Stonebriar Lane to the site of planned construction for a new building by Harvest Ridge Church, which has grown over the years to a 500-member congregation that now requires a bigger home.
Commission member Tim Anderson cast the lone dissenting vote.
The commission postponed a vote on the church’s request at its June meeting over questions about costs, and the effect the project would have on 21 residents and three businesses that would be required to pay thousands of dollars to tie into the sewer line once it is brought past them to the 22-acre parcel of land on the north side of Lorain Road, where the new church is planned.
At present, 20-odd homes in the affected area are all on septic tanks.
And as they did two months ago, residents objected to the sewer line extension.
Devona Grundy, 84, a longtime Lorain Road resident who lives near the church, told the commission she has had her septic system since 1955 and she didn’t wish to give it up.
Nita Morrison and Ana Wismer, who own condos in the flood-plagued Northview Circle condo development on Jaycox Road, expressed objections to the project until existing flooding issues are addressed.
“The current system is inundated, deteriorated and can’t handle it,” Morrison said.
Noll Drive resident Pat Wysocki agreed.
“We need to fix the problem before we add more people to the system,” Wysocki said.
City Engineer Scott Wangler said the extended sewer line would not add to the city’s flooding woes, which he blamed more on water leaking into the system through cracked, aging lines and faulty manhole covers.
A letter from Mark Smith of the Lorain County General Health District which was read at Tuesday night’s meeting stated the Ohio EPA would block the church’s expansion plans if it did not tie into the city’s sanitary sewer system.
The letter also stated that the EPA and the health district would require all residents as well as businesses within the area passed by the sewer line extension to abandon individual septic systems and hook into the sewers.
Wangler indicated tap-in costs for homeowners would vary but he cited a “ballpark figure” of $7,000, which doesn’t include the cost of running a line from the street to their homes, which has to be paid by homeowners.
Law Director Andrew Crites said tap-in costs could be paid for all at once or financed with the city over a 10-year period in an arrangement that would see those costs added to property tax bills at an approximate figure of $700 a year.
The church looks to pay about $400,000 to abandon its septic tank system and hook into the extended sanitary sewer line, according to Rev. Kevin Crow, who said the church has expanded four times since its present building at 35600 Lorain Road was constructed in 1997.
Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster said plans to repair and improve a number of detention basins in the area plus possible construction of a huge retention basin within the next 18 months should ease flooding concerns.
The city recently raised sewer rates 6 percent and increased a monthly fixed charge from $1.82 to $9 to generate funds to pay for needed upgrades.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.