Honey Creek residents grill county commissioner
THORNPORT - Perry County Commissioner Ed Keister had his first meeting with the Honey Creek Homeowners Association Tuesday night since taking office two months ago.
Keister read responses to questions about the new sewer system constructed to serve Honey Creek Road residents and those who live on Buckeye Lake's southern shore. Homeowners association chair Pete Myer submitted the questions to the commissioners, which Northern Perry County Water and Wastewater supervisor Jerry Rehart answered in writing.
*Question- As to the water rate increase, is this across the board or limited to the newest sewer tie-ins (it's some association members' understanding that Heron Bay never received the notice)?
*Answer- The water rate increase is for all Northern Perry County Water and Wastewater customers. All customers, including Heron Bay, received notice. The rate is $40 for the first 2,000 gallons and $8 per additional 1,000, up from $30 for the first 2,000 gallons and $6.25 per additional 1,000.
*Question- How many sewer taps are currently available in the area in terms of capacity?
*Answer- The Ohio EPA approved the connection of the remaining sewer taps. Rehart estimates the Crown Wehrle plant can handle 80 to 100 connections.
*Question- What and how is the Honey Creek and Fireman's Park sewer system to be connected to Thornville's facility, and when will the final connections be made?
*Answer- Sixteen companies submitted bids to the county Feb. 20. The companies had the option of bidding for the entire project or one or more of four project phases. Of those who bid for the entire project, the highest bid was Fields Excavating, Inc. at $1,003,432.83 and the lowest was TAM Construction, Inc. at $689,997.05. The project should be complete within six months.
*Question- Have you waived the late fee for those who did not pay the $3,500 tap fee by your stated deadline?
*Answer- A late fee was never established.
*Question- The homeowners understand there is a separate bid to complete the sewer. Why wasn't this in the original bid and what will be the cost balance to complete the tie-in?
*Answer- The county was in negotiations until recently with a developer for sewer service in the Little Buckeye area. An agreement was reached to install a gravity sewer to the area. The county secured additional grant funding and zero percent loans for this phase. Completing the project in this way reduced the overall cost.
*Question- Are the water rates uniform throughout the county?
*Question- We heard reports the Crown Wehrle plant in Thornport spilled raw sewage into the lake or Jonathon Creek several times in the past year. Is this true and if so, how many times?
*Answer- This is absolutely false! Rehart said he is very upset that such a slanderous accusation was made. He is requesting the name or names of the individuals who made the statements so he can contact them and put a stop to the vicious accusations.
*Question- Regarding the notice of water rate increase dated Jan. 22, Myer contacted Thornville Mayor Beth Patrick, who informed him there has been no new contract with Perry County or Northern Perry County Water and Wastewater. As such, under the Ohio Revised Code, how is the increase legal?
*Answer- A new contract was executed in Thornville August 2007 with a retroactive clause dating to Jan. 1, 2007. The Perry County Commissioners did not institute a rate increase at that time hoping that adding more customers to the system would offset the rate increase. Please be advised that the water rates established are based on all expenses incurred by Northern Perry County Water, not just the cost of water from Thornville.
*Question- As an increase in water rates causes an increase in sewer rates, where and when did the three public hearings required by the Ohio Revised Code take place before the increase was adopted?
*Answer- The Perry County Commissioners are referring to O.R.C. 6117.02.
"We're going to have to agree to disagree on that one," said Myer after Keister finished reading the questions and answers. Myer said the final answer didn't address its question. Keister said he'd find the answer to that question and several others the association members asked but he wasn't prepared to answer.
Several Honey Creek Homeowners Association members told Keister they believe the Perry County Prosecutor's Office is not enforcing zoning laws fairly. They said it could cost $500 to apply for a zoning variance, but the fine for violating zoning may only be $50 or $100, if anything. On the other hand, they said some people who have junk cars on their property receive unfairly high penalties.
Keister agreed. "The prosecutor won't enforce the (zoning) law," he said, adding that he'd speak with the prosecutor.
Myer said he'd like the hocode meowners association to speak with the prosecutor as "one voice" instead of several upset individuals.
"When you enforce the law, you have to enforce with common sense," said Perry County Prosecutor Joseph Flautt Wednesday. He said the only zoning violation referred to his office in roughly the last year was a case where a house was built too tall. The house was finished when he was made aware of the violation and he believed asking the homeowner to tear the house down was unreasonable. Although some people may not agree with his decisions, Flautt said he believes his office considers all variables relating to zoning and zoning violations. He said individual landowners could press charges against alleged zoning violations as well.
Myer added that construction near the lake is destroying wetlands and nothing is being done about it. "Officials should be enforcing the laws," said Myer. He's concerned that the inlets will choke with vegetation if the wetlands aren't properly preserved and controlled.
Honey Creek residents said hunters are shooting too close to residential areas and at least one resident heard buckshot hit her home.