Sewer hookup mandate is fair, sup­ports fu­ture

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

It has been brought to my at­ten­tion that many cit­i­zens are con­cerned about the de­tails of the Ce­cil County San­i­tary Dis­trict Pol­icy Mem­o­ran­dum No. 2: Manda­tory Con­nec­tion to County San­i­tary Sewer Sys­tem.

This pol­icy is part of our larger ef­fort to pro­vide county sewer within the county’s pre­scribed com­pre­hen­sive plan des­ig­nated growth ar­eas. Water will be pro­vided by Arte­sian, and in some in­stances, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties may pro­vide water ser­vice in these growth ar­eas.

The County Code man­dates con­nec­tion to county sewer where and when it is avail­able, but does not spec­ify the tim­ing or pro­vide any flex­i­bil­ity to prop­erty own­ers. Con­trary to what some seem to think, the pol­icy as writ­ten pro­vides flex­i­bil­ity and a de­gree of relief to prop­erty own­ers who cur­rently have im­prove­ments on their prop­erty with on­site sep­tic sys­tems. They will have 10 years to con­nect, un­less one of the trig­ger­ing events oc­curs:

1. Ti­tle to the prop­erty is trans­ferred, un­less the trans­fer is the re­sult of an in­her­i­tance or di­vorce set­tle­ment (con­nec­tion must be made and the ex­ist­ing on-site dis­posal sys­tem for­mally aban­doned within 120 cal­en­dar days of clos­ing);

2. A build­ing per­mit that re­quires the ap­proval of the Health Depart­ment is is­sued for the ren­o­va­tion, ex­pan­sion or con­struc­tion of any struc­ture on the prop­erty (con­nec­tion must be made and the ex­ist­ing on­site dis­posal sys­tem for­mally aban­doned prior to Health Depart­ment ap­proval of the build­ing per­mit);

3. The par­cel is sub­di­vided in any way as de­fined by the Ce­cil County Sub­di­vi­sion Reg­u­la­tions (con­nec­tion must be made and the ex­ist­ing on-site dis­posal sys­tem for­mally aban­doned prior to ap­proval of the sub­di­vi­sion);

4. The Ce­cil County Health Depart­ment de­ter­mines that the ex­ist­ing on­site dis­posal sys­tem is not failed or fail­ing but needs to be up­graded to ac­com­mo­date in­creased waste­water flows due, for ex­am­ple, to an in­crease in the num­ber of bed­rooms or other fac­tors. In this in­stance, ex­cep­tions for in­her­i­tance or di­vorce as out­lined in 4.a. above do not ap­ply (con­nec­tion must be made and the ex­ist­ing on-site dis­posal sys­tem for­mally aban­doned within 120 cal­en­dar days of the Health Depart­ment’s deter­mi­na­tion or prior to clos­ing if the prop­erty is be­ing sold or oth­er­wise trans­ferred);

5. The Ce­cil County Health Depart­ment de­ter­mines that the ex­ist­ing on­site sewage dis­posal sys­tem serv­ing the par­cel in ques­tion has failed or is fail­ing or oth­er­wise con­sti­tutes a health haz­ard (con­nec­tion must be made and the ex­ist­ing on-site dis­posal sys­tem for­mally aban­doned within 120 cal­en­dar days of the Health Depart­ment’s deter­mi­na­tion).

6. (It should be noted that all of the trig­ger­ing events ex­cept for the trans­fer of ti­tle are man­dated by state law; the pol­icy memo merely con­sol­i­dates those requirements into one easy-to read doc­u­ment.)

Fur­ther­more, I re­cently pro­posed, and the Ce­cil County Coun­cil ap­proved, a re­duc­tion in the sewer con­nec­tion charge for res­i­den­tial units from $12,000 to $6,000 per ELU (Equiv­a­lent Liv­ing Unit = 80,300 gal­lons a year of us­age.) Prop­erty own­ers will be able to avail them­selves of this re­duc­tion within the next 30 months, or two and a half years. Fur­ther­more, prop­erty own­ers can uti­lize our ex­ist­ing fi­nanc­ing plan to pay the sewer con­nec­tion charge. This plan pro­vides for a one-third ini­tial pay­ment — $2,000 — with the bal­ance be­ing paid an­nu­ally over 10 years with in­ter­est.

Pro­vid­ing prop­erty own­ers with the abil­ity to de­fer con­nec­tion po­ten­tially up to 10 years is in­tended to pro­vide them with a de­gree of relief. Fur­ther­more, con­nect­ing to sewer elim­i­nates fu­ture costs as­so­ci­ated with re­place­ment or re­pairs of on-site sep­tic sys­tems as well as pump-out costs. Con­nect­ing to sewer is far bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment and, in most in­stances, in­creases prop­erty val­ues.

I feel that the pol­icy that we have de­vel­oped is fair and sup­ports the county’s Com­pre­hen­sive Growth Plan, as well as en­ables eco­nomic growth now and into the fu­ture. This pro­gram also pro­vides relief to prop­erty own­ers who will be sub­ject to the pol­icy. This is yet an­other es­sen­tial step in mov­ing the county for­ward.

Alan J. McCarthy (R) serves as Ce­cil County Ex­ec­u­tive.

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