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County OKs initial plans for Phase II sewer district

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Pictured from left are Bryan Wilson, Tom Walsh and Paul McGarvey. Wilson and Walsh are with the Chautauqua Lake South and Center Sewer District, while McGarvey is the engineer for the Phase II extension project. The three answered questions during the public hearing on the project.

MAYVILLE — While the Phase I sewer construction on Chautauqua Lake is still underway, county lawmakers have given the green light to begin Phase II.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Chautauqua County Legislature, county lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of a resolution for the issuance of $24 million in bonds to pay the cost of the design and construction of an extension of the South Chautauqua Lake Sewer District. They also approved a resolution establishing the account as well as a resolution establishing the boundaries of the district.

Before voting on the resolutions, a public hearing was held where a number of residents spoke. The majority of the comments had to do with specifics on their property, what they would be responsible for versus what the sewer district would be responsible for, who would and would not be included in the district, as well as if they were required to join, which they were told they were.

Among the speakers during the public hearing was John Jablonski with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. He noted the CWC owns wetlands around Chautauqua Lake and requested not only their wetlands, but all wetlands be removed from the sewer district.

The reason, he said, is to discourage any future development on wetlands. “We shouldn’t be encouraging people who would be potentially paying assessments on this district lands which should not be developed because they are wetlands that are helping protect the lake from pollution coming off the roads and other places,” Jablonski said.

He added that the CWC supports sewering Chautauqua Lake.

One Chautauqua town resident expressed her concerns of being required to abandon her septic and hook up to the public sewer. The woman, who lives on Davis Road, said she likes her well water and doesn’t want any work done that could harm it.

She also expressed concerns over the cost, since residents are required to pay to connect to the sewer. Initial estimates are between $3,000 to $5,000, plus the annual $1,000 cost.

“I’m concerned about the economic conditions that are rising right now,” she said. “They are talking about a recession. … There’s a lot of wealthy people on the lake and it’s no big deal to them but for a lot of people it is.”

South and Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Director Tom Walsh stated that county law requires residents to join in. He did offer to speak to any residents who had further concerns about costs or where the lines would connect after the meeting.

He added that more informational public hearings will take place in the future.

The Phase II extension had received approval by the county Planning Board as well as by various legislative committees earlier in the month.

According to documents handed out at the meeting, Phase II will service about 520 parcels along a 3.6 mile stretch of Route 394 in the towns of North Harmony and Chautauqua.

In terms of the timeline, a survey and design would be created from the spring of 2023 to the spring of 2024. In the summer of 2024, bidding would begin. Construction would take place from the winter of 2024 to the winter of 2026.

Walsh added that the timeline can vary, depending on how things go.

The $24 million project breaks down to $15 million from state and federal funds, and $9 million from a loan, which would be paid by the users. According to Walsh, the annual cost to each resident will not exceed $1,000, per the state comptroller. Of that $1,000 paid by per user, $350 would go toward treatment and maintenance, and $650 would go to the capital costs. The loan is for 30 years, interest free.

Commercial businesses are billed differently. Instead of the $1,000 flat rate, they will be billed based on water consumption.

Phase I extension began in 2021 and is expected to be completed by 2023.

When Phase II is complete, officials said the west side of Chautauqua Lake will be completely sewered.

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