Town Takes No Action On Accepting 30-Year Old Sewer

A Jeffersonville real estate developer was thwarted in his proposed request to put 12 double-wide manufactured homes in Crothersville when the town council, last week, failed to take action on accepting a long ago installed currently privately owned sanitary sewer line on East Walnut Street.
Developer Matthew Conway wants to establish a 12-home addition on Walnut Street between Preston and East Streets. Before work begins, Conway wants the town to accept the street and sewer. That would involve the town paving the street and ensuring the sewer correctly flows.
The sewer, installed decades ago, by a previous, now deceased, developer was never accepted by the town. No records can be found, but apparently no engineering design work was done when it was installed to show that it has the proper fall.
Conway also would not commit to paving driveways to the homes or installing sidewalks in the area.
Town Council President Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson said he didn’t have a problem with adopting the sewer line because Mason Boicourt, the town’s wastewater superintendent, had tested it.
“It flows beautifully,” said Robinson.
In addition to sanitary sewer concerns, there are storm and surface water drainage issues in the area long plagued by a lack of drainage.
“I’ll make sure the water runs away from the home and not towards any other home,” said Conway.
He said rather than invest in a drainage plan and install ditches for the entire 12-home development, he said he would do the drainage work on a piecemeal basis as he installs and sells the homes.
That apparently didn’t set well with some town council members and neighbors of the area.
“My biggest concern is water draining on someone else,” said councilwoman Danieta Foster.
Ardell Mitchell, a town resident and former council member, said he is in favor of development and growth in the town, “ But East Walnut Street hasn’t been developed because of how wet it is,” he said.
“You want to portray it as it’s a simple fix and easy to drain,” Mitchell said to Conway. “But the fact of the matter is it has sat that way for 30 years, and you’re not the first developer to come through the doors of town hall asking to develop it.”
Mitchell cautioned the council about taking ownership of the sewer or street without an engineer reviewing the area, but that comes at a cost. He said there are several tests that should be performed on a sewer.
“I think that should be a certified engineer’s sign-off that ‘Yes, it’s suitable for public use’,” Mitchell said. He added the developer should pay for any costs related to the development, not the town.
Neighboring property owner Rex Kovert agreed saying that people have tried to develop the area of East Walnut Street, but they never moved forward because it’s too wet for homes.
Kovert said he’s OK with the housing addition as long as it doesn’t result in water on his and surrounding property.
“More houses would result in more water. When that water is coming off of roofs and everything, it will come off faster than it will on just the bare ground,” he said.
Conway became irritated with the questions and concerns from the council and residents. “When is the last time you had a new house built in this area?” Conway asked pointedly. “I’m talking about doing an $800,000 development up here, and you all are pushing me away for some dirt?”
“But I’m going to guarantee they pay taxes, and I’m going to guarantee it’s a brand-new freakin’ home here, and I’m going to guarantee you’re going to have $800,000 in revenue off this property,” Conway said. “I just can’t say I’m responsible for this sewer because one sewer problem, if there ever was, which who knows if there could be, would destroy any investment or profit that I thought I was going to make.”
Council President Robinson made a motion to approve the sewer into the town’s system and take over its maintenance but the motion died for lack of a second.
“I don’t need your permission to come here (and build). I’ll take on that freakin’ (sewer) line and build those houses,” Conway said.
Conway can move forward with the housing addition without the town’s acceptance of the sewer. He would just have to pay the $350 fee to tap into it and incur costs of any repairs in the future because of a sewer-related issue.
In other business the council:
•Gave 1st reading to a dangerous dog and feral cat ordinance.
•Approved loaning the newly established Crothersville Redevelopment Commission $10,000 for start-up costs which will be paid back when the commission begins getting revenue from industrial expansion.
•Approved writing off $5,527.54 in uncollectible utility bills. Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey said that the amount is lower than last year and represents bills from properties on which houses are no longer there, property owners are deceased, and renters left town without paying their utility bill.