Thursday, March 11, 2004

County picks up 8-year-old plan to install home sewers

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLERAIN TWP. - Eight years after the county first agreed to put in a new sewage system for a neighborhood here, county commissioners Wednesday agreed to do the same sewer project at slightly above the cost quoted in 1996. And to start on it soon.

Residents on Cranbrook Drive in the northeast corner of Colerain Township had agreed to pay for a sewage system in 1996 at an estimated $6,000 per house. But that project never got started. In 2002, however, residents balked when the county health department declared the area a public health nuisance because of failing septic systems, then the sewer district revised the residents' cost to nearly $15,000 per house.

The residents with the failing septic systems were satisfied Wednesday when, after commissioner Todd Portune attempted to keep costs at the original $6,000, the commissioners agreed to keep costs below $8,000 per home.

"I was just tickled because we saved these residents $7,000 apiece. Yes, they have a health nuisance, but these residents didn't cause the health nuisance," said township trustee Bernie Fiedeldey, who represented Cranbrook Drive residents in front of the county commissioners.

. Commissioners and representatives from the Metropolitan Sewer District couldn't answer why the sewers weren't put in eight years ago. Some Colerain Township residents, including Fiedeldey, said the project "fell into a black hole."

"I can't speak as to why MSD didn't move on this project," Portune said, "but the figure residents agreed to pay was $6,122.72." Commissioners Phil Heimlich and John Dowlin found it unfair to pass the gap in price onto other MSD rate-payers, and came up with the compromise of $8,000.

Though Cranbrook Drive residents are pleased their bill was sliced to nearly the original assessment, neighboring residents still fear they'll be stuck with the stench and contamination flowing from malfunctioning septic tanks during the next two years before the new sewers are put in.

"We still can't open our windows this spring," said Jerry Weidemann, who lives on a neighboring street. "More and more of these septic systems are failing as every year goes by. It's just unbearable. The process is unacceptable, that for two years all we can do is sit here and wait. In the meantime, they need to fix the septic systems that don't work."

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