KENSINGTON - Hanover Township trustees followed through with plans to use a section of the community park for the proposed Kensington sewage treatment plant after learning any changes at this point would likely increase user rates by $240 per year.
Trustees voted unanimously at last week's special meeting to transfer the 1.4-acre parcel from the township-owned park in Kensington to Columbiana County commissioners so the $2.5 million plant can be built on the site.
Trustees decided to hold a special meeting to seek public input on the issue after receiving a request from county Engineer Bert Dawson asking them to proceed with transferring the property so construction can get underway this year.
Dawson attended the special meeting and reminded trustees this should not have come as a surprise since they had spoke several times before about how the park property was the best location because of its proximity to Kensington and Sandy Creek, where the treated effluent will be discharged.
"We've got to do the project. This isn't a meeting to see whether you want the sewer," he said.
Dawson pointed out the project was mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which ordered the county provide sanitary sewer service to address the problem of widespread malfunctioning septic systems in the area.
The plant would serve 88 households and three business, who will be charged a user fee of $25.50 per month if the facility and lines can be built for no more than $2.5 million. The sewer lines would extend along U.S. Route 30 to the intersection in Kensington, and about a half mile in either direction from there on state Routes 9 and 644.
Trustees said previously they thought the county had also considered building the plant near the Forest Lanes bowling alley or the township hall, but Dawson said moving the plant farther away from Kensington will increases costs because it would require another pump station and new access bridges across the canals, adding $20 to the monthly user fee to cover the extra expense.
Dawson said they worked hard to keep what the county needs to borrow to a minimum, and as a result there will be no tap fee for residents. Since sanitary service is mandatory, anyone whose home is within 200 feet of a sewer line will be required to hook on at their own expense, but income-eligible households will be able to obtain assistance with that expense.
"We can probably get you hooked up for nothing," he told the crowd.
Residents will also be required to abandon their septic tanks at their own expense.
As for the plant, Dawson said it will not be an "eyesore" and urged residents to check out the new mini-sewage treatment plant the county built on County Home Road in Center Township.
"It's quiet and makes no noise," said county Commissioner Tim Weigle, referring to the County Home Road plant. Weigle attended the meeting, and he suggested they might plant pine trees to obscure the view of the plant from U.S. Route 30.
The section of the park being used is located at the far end and separated by a field. "It's not going to affect the basketball court and it's not going to affect the pavilion," Dawson pointed out.
About 25 people attended the meeting, and Trustee Leroy Ridgeway asked for a show of hands where they stood on the land transfer, but there did not seem much interest in that. Some of the residents who did speak up at that point said the project is needed.
Other residents who live across from the park said they were upset about having to look at the plant. One woman pointed out the plant will be located on a bend just as motorists enter Kensington.
"What's going to happen is they're going to run into the (expletive) house and it'll explode," she said.
Another resident questioned the wisdom of building the plant in a flood-prone area. Dawson said the plant site will be elevated four feet to withstand a 100-year-flood, although the 2004 flash flood may have reached that level. He said if the plant is flooded, the sewage will not escape the facility.
The affected property owners have yet to be told if they are within the project zone, and Dawson said they will be, and his office can provide a map for trustees to hang in the township hall for people to view.
Some residents who live just beyond where the sewer lines end were interested in being included, and Dawson said that is something they can consider as a separate project because to expand it at this late date would not only delay the entire project but increase costs.
The plant can be expanded to take in sewage from the nearby village of Hanoverton, which is also under an OEPA mandate to provide sanitary sewer service to the community.