Edgewood moving on infrastructure and zoning

The town of Edgewood is taking a look at a few alternatives for expansion of its sewer lines, and put off action on changes to its zoning ordinance until Oct. 18.

When Tappan Mahoney inquired of the town council why the sewer line to his engineering firm is not prioritized, Mayor John Bassett repeatedly referred him to town staff. Mahoney insisted, however, and said he has sent a letter to town staff that still hasn’t been answered.

He said he expects the sewer line to his business should be “first in the queue” because “your ordinance stipulates that.”

Mahoney said because his business had paid a fee when submitting his application to be linked into the town sewer, that application should have priority under town ordinance.

He instead alleged that property owned by the Bassett family has priority.

Cody Sipes is an engineer for Smith Engineering, which got the contract to plan the expansion of collection lines for the sewer. Sipes presented the council with two proposals, each with two options, and asked the council to prioritize them.

The alternatives look at whether to use gravity fed lines or lift stations, and also at which area would be prioritized for sewer lines first.

Under the first alternative, two options were presented: the first would use a lift station and the second gravity-fed lines.

A lift station at Quail Trail near the senior center would cost less initially but has ongoing maintenance and electrical costs, plus additional design costs. The estimated cost is $388,000.

The lift station would service residents between Cactus Road and Quail Trail, south of Church Street, in what the engineering report dubs Alternative 1B.

The second option would cost $414,000 up front for gravity-fed line, but have lower maintenance and operation costs. It would require the town to get easements through private property and could be vulnerable to damage or infiltration from floods, Sipes said. The area served would be the same area between Cactus Road and Quail Trail.

The second alternatives looked at a lift station versus gravity-fed line with the first option showing a smaller lift station on Dunkin Road and would serve the area between North Odette Court and Williams Ranch Road, with an estimated cost of $489,000, which assumes that Alternative 1B is selected.

The second option would install about 1,900 feet of deep sewer lines from North Odette Court almost to Williams Ranch Road at an estimated cost of $459,000. It would mean less infrastructure but could run into issues ranging from rock to costly sewer line repairs.

The engineering report describes eight areas, in no particular order, according to Sipes.

The “main street area,” near the community center and including Mahoney’s business; the Dunkin Road area; Quail Trail area; Range Road area; Williams Ranch Road area; N.M. 344 area; Route 66 area and Edgewood 7 area. If all of those lines were built, the price estimate—which excludes major items like road construction, engineering fees or land acquisition—would be just over $13 million.

Final engineering would be next summer if the project stays on Smith Engineering’s timeline.

Councilor Sherry Abraham wondered about problems with the town’s wastewater treatment plant. “Does it make more sense to look at the plant before we look at collection lines?” she asked.

Sipes said how much the plant can accept is outside his scope of work.

Councilor Rita Loy Simmons, joining the meeting by telephone, described “a chicken and egg situation here.”

She continued, “We don’t have the customer base. How do we get customer base? We get the lines to them. … It’s kind of like a dog chasing its tail.”

Abraham asked the mayor which options cross his property or his family’s property, to which Bassett answered Alternative 1B and Main Street.

In other business, the council again took up proposed changes to the town’s zoning ordinance, which will give greater power, along with a process to follow, to the town’s code enforcement officer.

The council decided that it needs time to clean up formatting and to remove language that would be stricken for a clean copy of the ordinance to proofread, and said it will consider other comments from the public as well.

Bassett clarified that while the proposed change would impose a 10-day time limit for a property owner to respond to a complaint, that the “action plan” for cleaning up a property is open-ended and could be defined by the code enforcement official and the property owner or occupant. Still, the whole process could see a lien against a property within about a month, he said in response to a question from Abraham.

Properties that were in the county but annexed in the infill would be grandfathered in with their current uses, unless something changes physically on the property, Bassett said.

Janelle Turner served previously on the town’s planning and zoning commission and said that “alarmist talk about the authority of the town to come on to your property” is unfounded because that authority “has been in every version of the zoning ordinance since 2003.” She said the standard language describing due process would help the town.

Talking about the changes, Turner said, “We don’t want to harm what makes Edgewood special and what makes people want to live here.”

Councilor John Abrams made a motion to continue the public hearing until the Oct. 18 meeting of the town council; the motion passed unanimously.