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Ballston residents still upset over sewer issues

Ballston residents still upset over sewer issues

Proposed town law at issue
Ballston residents still upset over sewer issues
Ballston Lake is pictured on Tuesday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

BALLSTON — Sewer issues are still brewing in Ballston, a month after a proposed Route 50 sewer plan was voted down by residents

At a May 8 public hearing, residents expressed concern that they didn't get the opportunity to vote on the town's proposed sewer law, which requires residents in sewer districts to connect to town sewer systems within three years of their completion.

The Route 50 sewer plan sought to build a new system that would connect 527 parcels along each side of Route 50 — between the Glenville town line and Route 146A — and on the residential roads around Route 50, including Lake Hill and Kingsley roads. 

That project was shot down on April 18 in a vote of 419-108. 

There are two other sewer projects in the works for Ballston. One is the Carpenter's Acres project, which came about in 2015 when residents of the Carpenter’s Acres housing subdivision signed a petition requesting sewers. A referendum on that project is expected in July. 

The other project is around Ballston Lake, a sewer system residents approved in October 2015. 

Though the Route 50 plan was rejected, resident Susan Robbiano worries the Town Board will put it back up for a vote in the future.

"The town is looking at this law as something that will affect everyone at some point in time," she said. 

Town Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak said the Town Board will hear a summary of written comments by residents regarding the proposed sewer use law at its May 29 meeting. The law would then be voted on at the June meeting. 

"We'll evaluate the comments, tweak the draft law as needed based on the public comments and vote on it," he said.

Robbiano said she wants the sewer use law to be voted on by residents, not just the Town Board. 

"It shouldn't be mandatory for residents to connect," she said. "They're threatening us with penalties to connect."

Users who do not connect within three years of completion are subject to fines of up to $1,000 per day, after the three-year deadline.

Exemptions to the connection law include properties that are more than 300 feet from the sewer system. Also, properties with septic systems that are less than five years old would be granted a five-year extension to connect.

Property owners with annual incomes of less than three times the U.S. poverty threshold could also apply for a five-year extension to connect. 

Robbiano said the exemptions are more like deferrals. 

"The town will give you leniency for a period of time, but the full tax will kick in at some point," she said. "People will still be hurt." 

At the May 8 meeting, several residents said they weren't informed about costs when the Ballston Lake sewer project was put up for a vote. 

One-time connection costs range from $3,500 to $10,000, based on whether a home requires a grinder pump and how far the home is from the sewer system.

A new connection to the sewer main would cost $30 to $40 per foot of distance covered.

Resident Joe Rosamino, who voted 'no' on the Ballston Lake sewer project, said it would cost him at least $15,000 to connect. 

"It's being crammed down our throats," he said of the sewer system. "They said the lake was in need of sewage, but that's not just an issue for the people surrounding the lake; it's a town issue."

The annual cost for sewer service for those in the Ballston Lake sewer district will be $907. 

Rosamino said many in the Ballston Lake sewer district, including himself, want a re-vote. 

"I think the people in the district have been asleep, but they've woken up, and I just hope it's not too late," he said. "There would be financial hardships for a lot of people. This would be a major expense, not only yearly, but upfront, and we have no rebuttal."

Szczepaniak said out-of-pocket costs will be lessened for residents, after the town received a $2.5 million grant for the project. 

"A referendum has been taken, and the vote is over," he said. "The project is in the design phase right now, and no re-vote will be taken. Shovels should be in the ground next spring." 

The next Town Board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on May 29 at 323 Charlton Road in Ballston Spa. 

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