County discusses expansion of Fenwick sewer district

The Sussex County Council this week voted to defer any action following a public hearing for the planned Route 54 expansion of the Fenwick Island Sanitary Sewer District.

John Ashman, division director for the Sussex County Engineering Department, gave the council a brief presentation regarding the expansion at their Feb. 10 meeting. The expansion area includes parcels along Route 54, primarily from Zion Church Road to Williamsville Road.

Ashman said his department is currently working on obtaining financing and grants for the expansion project and noted that property owners would be responsible for system connection fees of $5,500 per equivalent dwelling unit.

The timeline for the project estimates that the design phase will begin in March, with construction beginning in January 2016, to be completed and operational in October 2016.

For the expansion, a $7.07-per-front-foot assessment is estimated, along with a $278 annual service charge.

Ashman said his office had received calls and correspondence regarding the expansion, from property owners asking to be included.

Anita Adkins, who resides on Lighthouse Road, said she and her family have been dealing with a septic system for decades and are excited to be included in the upcoming expansion.

“We have been feeling like stepchildren for far too long,” she said. “I’m here to say thank you for finally getting around to it and please hurry… We’re all for it, folks. We need it. We deserve it. Please get on the stick and get it done.”

Councilman George Cole asked if Adkins had seen the proposed charges.

“You don’t have any problem with the estimated $7 per front foot? You probably have 100 feet, at least… It looks like a home with 100 feet could be $1,000 a year.”

“I’ll live with that,” said Adkins.

Walter Johnson, who resides on Sand Cove Road, said he and his wife have lived in their house since 1988.

“I just want to go back to the ‘redheaded stepchild’ statement,” he said, noting that he and a couple of neighbors had not been called or asked if they want to be included in the district. “It would affect our long-term viability of our system and also our property valves. When Bayside expanded right beside us… that’s where the water treatment plant is, offices, their Dumpsters. That is in the sewer district. We are not… We feel like we’ve been ignored in the process.”

Ashman said those properties would eventually come into the district regardless; however, it would be within the council’s purview to include them in this expansion.

Dino Iacchetta, who owns a shopping center in Williamsville on Lighthouse Road said he, too, would like to be included in the expansion.

“It’s a great need,” he said, noting that his shopping center houses 11 businesses, including a hair salon, restaurant and physical therapy offices.

Ashman said Johnson and his neighbors could be included in the expansion but that he was unsure if it would be feasible to extend to the shopping center, as the drainage basin splits near that turn.

It was noted that the County tries to make the switch from septic to sewer cost-effective for the user, and it is unknown if expanding to the shopping center would do that.

The council voted unanimously to defer their decision. The expansion will be discussed again at their Feb. 17 meeting, at which Ashman will present potential options and costs to include the shopping center in the expansion.