BURNT HILLS — Burnt Hills property owners will make a major decision Wednesday about whether to bring public sewers to their hamlet.
Voting on the $15.8 million project will take place from noon to 8 p.m. in Ballston Town Hall on Charlton Road. The polls are open to the owners of 527 properties in the proposed sewer district.
The results will settle, at least for now, a debate that has split the community, with people weighing environmental benefits against the costs, in addition to the prospect that sewers would spur new development.
Around the community, lawn signs urging a “no” vote far outnumber “yes” vote signs, and letters to the editor in recent weeks have weighed in on both sides. The town has sent an official mailing to all property owners, and anonymous fliers have also been distributed. The town also has a website devoted to its sewer projects, ballstonsewers.org.
“I would think [turnout] would be rather high,” said Town Councilman William Goslin, Town Board liaison to the sewer project. “People are engaged, so I would expect turnout to be higher than average.”
The area to be served would be along each side of Route 50 between the Glenville town line and Route 146A — a distance of just under a mile — and on the residential roads around it, including Lakehill and Kingsley roads.
There has been talk about bringing sewers to the Burnt Hills hamlet for decades, but supporters say the time for a decision is now since an already-approved sewer district around Ballston Lake is in the design phase. That makes it easier to determine the scope of the Ballston Lake sewer main needed to accommodate Burnt Hills.
Most of those opposed to the project feel the cost is too high, while others believe constructing sewers in the hamlet is a first step toward extending them into surrounding areas, where open land would be threatened by development.
The estimated cost of the sewer infrastructure would be $926 per year for each connection, a number that includes both construction debt service and the anticipated annual use charges. On top of that, however, those connecting would face a one-time cost of anywhere between $3,500 and $10,000 to hook up to the system and decommission their septic systems.
“We’ve done our best to inform voters with a door-to-door grassroots effort,” said David Nucci, a leader among opponents. “Hopefully, voters are awake and motivated to vote.”
Nuzzi said many businesses, including restaurants, would pay more based on estimated use, since the $926-per-year figure is based on the estimated use of a single-family home.
If the district is approved, everyone in it will be responsible for $651 annually in debt service, but not everyone would have to connect and pay use charges, said project consulting engineer Kim Kotkoskie. The town has carved out exemptions for homes with septic systems installed within the past 10 years, for people with low incomes and residents whose homes would be more than 300 feet from the sewer line. All would need to connect, however, if their septic systems fail.
Once they know the vote result, town officials expect final design of the Ballston Lake sewer project to be complete later this year, with construction starting next spring.
“I really think it’s a good process, and I think, in general, everyone involved has been very professional, and it’s a good community discussion, so we’ll see what happens,” Goslin said.