County OKs change in sewer plans

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A request by residents earlier this month to alter plans for part of the sanitary sewer extension into Highland Park subdivision was approved Tuesday by the Athens County Commissioners.

Later this spring, the commissioners expect to seek bids for building a sanitary sewer system for subdivisions west of Athens, including Highland Park, with the city of Athens treating the sewage.

Diane and Mark Spezza, who live on Estates Drive, presented a proposal March 13 to relocate the proposed sewer line from the roadway to behind four houses on Estates Drive and one on Pine Lane. That would shorten the distance (and lessen the cost) for the homeowners to connect to the sewer line, and eliminate the need to dig a trench in the roadway for that part of the sewer line.

The commissioners voted Tuesday to authorize the project engineer to make the proposed change, with the condition that the property owners donate easements for the project.

Mark Spezza said the property owners have agreed to give the easements, adding that it is a “no brainer” for them because of the money they will save from hookup costs.

According to Spezza, property owners in the subdivision are supportive of the project and do not want to see the bidding delayed, but five or six additional owners have expressed interest in possibly having plan changes made.

“I’m willing to explore it, but I’m not the ‘resident in charge’ here,” Spezza said, “but I’ve had people come to me and ask if there is any opportunity for them.”

Commissioners Chris Chmiel and Charlie Adkins said they don’t oppose taking a look at it. Chmiel noted that time is short for changes to the plans, and Adkins said the project needs to continue moving forward.

Rich Kasler, superintendent of the Athens County Water and Sewer District, said he personally would prefer keeping the sewer line in the public right of way, although he did recommend the commissioners allow the change requested by the Spezzas. Kasler said that it is more difficult to maintain lines that go through private property because it involves tearing up people’s yards.