By WAYNE ALLEN
PDT Staff Writer
Progress is being made in obtaining the necessary easements for the $30 million Minford Sewer project. The county has 450 of the 740 easements necessary.
Minford resident Amy Moore has refused to sign an easement for her property. She said a land agent with the Scioto County Sanitary Engineer’s office threatened to take her to court if she did not sign the easement.
“They told us, if we did not sign over an easement they would take us to court and make us sign it. We told them to go ahead and take us to court,” Moore said.
Scioto County Sanitary Engineer Joe Delong said there has been one person refuse to sign an easement necessary for the Minford project.
“If they refuse to sign, we will send them a letter giving them an additional 30 days. If they still refuse, we will have the easement appraised, then we will turn it over to the attorneys. The attorneys will submit it to a judge. At that point it’s up to the judge, if the homeowner does not respond or make a counter offer, to decide how it goes,” Delong said.
He said if there are a handful of people that will not sign an easement necessary for the project, the county will use eminent domain, in extreme cases.
Moore said there are a variety of reasons she is not signing an easement.
“We do not want a public sewer system. We do not want an additional bill to pay and we would have to pay to have our current sewer system destroyed, which we put in less than two years ago. We spent $5,000 on that,” Moore said.
She said there are concerns about property value and the possibility of the system backing up.
“We’ve known people who have had nothing but problems with public sewer systems. I think we should focus taxpayer dollars on fixing existing sewers rather than making new ones,” Moore said. “I feel it was a threat telling us if we do not sign over the easements they were going to take us to court. My concern is that some may not know they do not have to sign over the documents and will do so in fear.”
The project is being funded by a $14, 507,00 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) and through a $14,912,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development loan.
USDA officials sent a letter to Scioto County Commissioners stating that if the project is not under construction or a contract is not signed for construction by July 31 project funding could be in jeopardy.
“We are concerned that your project has not advanced to the construction stage. The Recovery (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds approved for your project may be in jeopardy if progress on your project is not made soon,” J. Anthony Logan, USDA state director, wrote in a letter dated Jan. 30 to the Scioto County Commissioners.
The project calls for the installation of 30 miles of sewer mains, a new wastewater treatment plant and other things.
The proposed project will provide sewage service to 1,327 existing homes along with modest growth capacity for the entire service area.
Logan also wrote that if the project is not under construction or under a contact for construction by July 31 a request could be made to the White House Office of Management & Budget for a waiver.
“The agency will consider making a request for a waiver to OMB with the information you provide. Waivers will be requested sparingly so the reason for delay must be well-documented and show extenuating circumstances,” Logan wrote.
Delong said he recently met with USDA officials to ask for an extension on getting the project started.
“They are encouraged with our participation of the easements. They have not given me any indication that the July 31 date has changed,” Delong said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.