The Montville Township Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote Tuesday night on what Mayor Tim Braden has said "is one of the most complex issues this committee has ever faced."
It's a law that would have 71 Towaco homeowners and the town share in the cost of an approximately $1 million project designed to give those homeowners the opportunity to connect to the town's water system instead of an aging private system.
Some homeowners could end up paying about $9,000 each to help pay for the project and connect to the system, though some residents might be assessed different amounts—they won't know until the project is complete—and some residents might not opt to connect to the system, though the project could be seen as increasing the value of their homes regardless.
A previous version of the ordinance, approved Nov. 23, 2010, had two main differences in that it appropriated less money and did not spell out which homes would be affected by the plan.
The Township Committee meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the .
Most of the homeowners involved in the plan get their water from an aging water company, Plausha Park, which most of the affected homeowners co-own. They realized the system needed potentially costly repairs and that connecting to the town's system and decommissioning their system might make the most long-term sense.
Some of the issues that have come up:
- Even though some homeowners might technically be Plausha Park members, they have had wells installed and don't want to be billed for a project they're not going to use.
- The Plausha Park company made an agreement with the town to go ahead with the project, which its members approved. But the ordinance now lists 10 homes that apparently weren't involved in that agreement.
- Some Plausha Park members who stand to benefit from the new line cite past township projects to argue they shouldn't have to pay more than the approximately $3,600 connection fee.
- And homeowners won't actually know what their bill will be until after the project is complete.
The 2010 ordinance appropriated $900,000 for the project. The proposed ordinance appropriates $1,050,000 because bids for the project came in over the initial estimates. The difference would come from Water and Sewer Department surplus.
And it lists 71 properties by block and lot, while the previous version of the ordinance only referred to the Plausha Park neighborhood.
The Plausha Park company, which has about 60 members, agreed to the plan after its members voted. But the new version brings into the equation about 10 more homes that could stand to benefit from the line.
All affected homeowners have been notified of the new plan, according to township officials.
George Sinner, a Barney Road resident, said most residents understand the project is necessary, that it is expensive and that they will have to pay for a portion of it.
But Plausha Park member Tracy Schuly said the project is comparable to other projects that only required residents to pay the connection fee. From the beginning, some residents have felt the costs are not fair, she said.