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Huntertown attains land for sewage plant, basin

Huntertown is moving forward with building an equalization basin and wastewater treatment plant, although permits for neither project have been received from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The basin project would cause customer sewer rates, which are based on water usage, to increase about 40 percent, the town’s attorney said Monday.

The permit for the equalization basin – which will collect, store and pretreat wastewater – is expected to arrive any day, Huntertown’s attorney, David Hawk, said Monday.

No one is arguing that the basin is necessary, he said.

“Everyone thinks we need this, including IDEM and City Utilities,” Hawk said. “We’ll get it.”

The town closed on a 26-acre site at 2214 and 2232 Hathaway Road on Friday, and the property is now Huntertown’s, Hawk said.

The proposed wastewater treatment plant and equalization basin will both be built on the site, he said. Construction on the equalization basin is expected to begin in May or June.

The town’s plan for an $11.2 million wastewater treatment plant was turned down by IDEM in 2012. State officials denied the proposed plant permit because the plant would cause significant pollution to Geller Ditch, where the treated water was to be discharged. The town appealed, and the matter is before the Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication, awaiting a decision.

In the meantime, the town plans to submit a new permit application with a new discharge site about 4 miles west on Hathaway Road in Eel River Township. The treated wastewater would discharge upstream of Johnson Road into Eel River/Geller Ditch.

John Smith, who owns property near the discharge site, asked the council about surveying that was taking place on Hathaway Road.

“No one will tell me; so I’m asking, is that your project?” Smith asked.

Council President Pat Freck deferred to Hawk and the town engineer, who confirmed it was Huntertown’s project.

The surveying is necessary for the new permit application, Hawk said. The application will be sent to IDEM in the next few weeks, he said.

To help pay for the basin project, a sewer rate increase of about 40 percent is necessary, Hawk said. A public hearing on the proposed increase will be at 6 p.m. April 21.

The council also agreed to finance the project through sewage works revenue bonds not to exceed $4.4 million.

“Included is a reimbursement to the town for costs and the purchase of land,” town financial consultant Stephen Carter said.

The bonds would mature in February 2036, Carter said.

“This is just for the equalization project,” he said. “Any new projects would have to have a new ordinance or we would have to amend this one.”

In a separate meeting Monday, the Huntertown Utilities Board approved an extended contract for Utilitus LLC to represent the town through the next legislative session.

Two weeks ago, the board had retroactively hired lobbyist Joe Sutherland of Utilitus LLC, an affiliate of the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Indianapolis, in March, months after he was hired and a few weeks after he represented them at a state Senate hearing.

They had agreed to pay him $10,000.

The extended contract will pay $250 an hour as services are needed, Hawk said.