After a decade, still hold-outs to WMSD

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
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The recent controversy over the Augusta Regional Sewer Authority brought to light a similar situation still unresolved with the Germantown Sewer Project.

Kevin Cornett, general manager of the Western Mason Sanitation District, said there are still four households which have not hooked onto the the sewer lines, despite an ordinance requiring them to do so.

Cornett and WMSD Board Member Maude Teegarden appeared before Mason County Commission earlier this week to address the issue with commissioners, Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer and County Attorney John Estill.

When the line was first completed in 2007, five residents who would be required to subscribe to the service challenged the law in district court. The court ruled in the residents’ favor, saying there was no footage exemptions for large farming operations and that the law did not make requirements clear.

The count revisited the ordinance and changed the law to require a 300 foot exemption which would have affected only one of the five involved in the court action, officials said. However, despite the new provision, the county did not return to court to force those households to hook on to the line.

Cornett said the real impact of not enforcing the ordinance could be financial. The federal government, which both loaned and provided grant money for the project could demand that it be paid back because the exemptions are not allowed under federal law which requires that any property which abuts a sewer line must hook on to the service.

The real question before the court was how to proceed in enforcing the ordinance.

Commissioner Annette Walters reminded the court that some new homeowners have just invested substantial sums into septic systems.

“The Kentucky Division of Water says you can’t exempt and you can’t discriminate,” Cornett said. “There are only two types of septic systems — one that is failing or one that will fail.”

Estill said he would act at the discretion of commissioners but said he would prefer that the WMSD be the lead agency and not the county.

Estill also suggested that the customers should be given written notice before any legal action is taken. The complaint, he said, should come from WMSD.

Estill told Cornett to draft a letter for the residents giving them notice of the sewer district’s intent.

“We want people to comply, not prosecute,” he said.

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Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]