Residents upset over county permit fees
BUCKEYE LAKE – Resident Kay Allen asked the Buckeye Lake Village Council Monday night why residents learned only recently of additional Licking County Health Department fees and permits to connect to the village’s public water distribution system. “There are a lot of pissed people out there,” she said.
Village Service Director Tim Matheny said he’d asked health department officials months ago about any permits or fees they may have and, “the county didn’t say anything,” he said. Matheny said there was discussion of county involvement in commercial hook-ups, which eventually led health department officials to realize the Buckeye Lake residential systems needed small expansion tanks installed on the cold water lines ahead of the hot water heaters.
He said Buckeye Lake’s system has Ohio EPA required backflow preventers, which are safer because they stop polluted water from leaking back into the public water system, but they require expansion tanks. As water heats and expands in hot water tanks, the backflow preventers stop the hot water tanks from venting extra pressure and, without the expansion tanks, water pipes could burst.
Residential property owners will have to purchase a $75 permit from the health department to connect to the new water system. Commercial property owners will have to purchase a $220 permit from the department.
If a residential property owner plans to seal a well, he or she must purchase a $15 permit from the health department. If it is a shared well, the permit costs $20. The actual work must be done by a private water system contractor registered with the Ohio Department of Health. Currently there are 15 registered contractors in Licking County and eight in Fairfield County. Commercial property owners must discuss well sealing with Ohio EPA.
Residential property owners may do their own connection work if they submit an affidavit of ownership and residency to the health department. If a contractor is doing the connection work that firm or person must be registered with the health department and provide a certificate of insurance for $100,000 for injury and property damage. Some of the contractors on the original list maintained at the village office were not registered with the health department. A list of the plumbing contractors registered with the health department is now available at the village office. All commercial connections must be done by a licensed and registered plumber.
In a related issue, council member A. Kaye Hartman said water bills should be roughly $29 per month for the first 2,000 gallons. “That’s big news,” she said. Rates were originally estimated for the mid-40s, but Hartman said federal stimulus money and more customers than expected drove down the monthly rate.
Hartman added that there will be enough money in July, via grants and other sources, such as no interest loans, to pave every street that belongs to the village; currently, village streets are muddy and rutted following installation of water lines.
Matheny said private streets, such as those in the Carlin Addition and possibly others, will be patched, but not paved. Private street residents, he said, may contribute money to have their street paved. However, if a private street is paved, Matheny said the village would likely take over its maintenance.
Mayor Rick Baker said paving would begin as soon as the funding is released. Matheny said there’s no way for the village to secure a loan ahead of time so work can begin earlier because grant money cannot be used to repay loans. Grants can only fund a project as the work begins and the funding is available. He said the village still needs to find a contractor to do the paving (Stillion Brothers is only maintaining the roads until another contractor repaves). That contractor probably couldn’t begin until late May or June, even if a loan were a possibility.
In other council news:
• Buckeye Lake firefighter Travis Colley told council members that Buckeye Lake and Utica are the only Licking County villages that still use an audible fire and emergency siren. He spoke as a followup to First Street resident Jessica Colley’s complaint to council that the siren wakes her son at night and is a “general nuisance” to the neighborhood.
“I’m sick of it going off at three a.m.,” said Travis Colley. He then asked Baker if Fire Chief Pete Leindecker’s position is a paid position.
Baker said it is and warned Colley that whatever he wanted to discuss, it wasn’t appropriate to do so at a council meeting. “He’s the boss,” Baker said of Leindecker. “We can get into that another time.” He acknowledged that Colley came to council speaking as a citizen, but as a firefighter for the Buckeye Lake Fire Department, Colley needed to respect the chain of command. Baker had no comment on the situation following the meeting.
Colley implied that council member Donna Thompson “bad mouthed” Jessica Colley after she complained about the siren. Thompson strongly disagreed. “You’re a damn liar!” she said.
• Director of Development Valerie Hans said everything is “on track” to begin demolishing derelict properties and there are currently 13 that she’s confident will come down as soon as some paperwork is complete. Hans said an addition 28 properties are submitted to Licking County for demolition and are “in process.” Licking County grants are paying for the demolition.
• Council member Jeryne Peterson said Friday, June 18, noon to 5 p.m. will be the United Way Day of Caring, where volunteers help to complete community projects.