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Huntertown applies for waste plant

Huntertown submitted a new wastewater treatment plant application to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on Monday.

The new application will most likely supercede the previous one that was rejected by IDEM two years ago and is being appealed by the town, town attorney David Hawk said.

Hawk will meet with IDEM officials this week and the appeal may be dismissed, he said.

In the meantime, the town has received the state’s approval to build a $4 million equalization basin to store and pretreat wastewater, which is necessary whether the town stays with City Utilities or builds its own plant, officials said.

Fort Wayne City Utilities has provided the town with sewer service since 1988, but that contract expired last year, although Fort Wayne continues to treat the wastewater.

The new plant proposal includes a different discharge site about 4 miles west of the equalization basin and proposed plant property at 2214 and 2232 Hathaway Road. The treated wastewater would be pumped west along Hathaway Road to Eel River Township and discharged upstream of Johnson Road into Eel River and Geller Ditch.

The old permit included a discharge site near the plant site, closer to Lima Road.

The added costs of running the lines and pumping the treated wastewater, along with the additional mechanical equipment that would be required jumped the original estimate for the proposed plant from $11.2 million to $14.3 million, said Derek Frederickson of Engineering Resources Inc. in Fort Wayne.

The application includes new state effluent definitions that would prevent the degradation of Eel River and Geller Ditch – the main reason the original permit was denied, Frederickson said.

“Sewer bills with the new plant would be about $68 a month, about the same as it would be if the town continues to connect with Fort Wayne,” Frederickson said.

There were a couple of unknowns, he said, including not knowing if Fort Wayne’s rate would increase or if there would be added surcharges.

If the plant application is approved, Frederickson suggested town officials consider charging $2,500 for new connections into the system to offset costs.

In other business, Zohrab Tazian of Z K Tazian Associates Inc., developer of Classic Heights subdivision in Huntertown, expressed frustration that a phase of development that was approved in the subdivision 2 1/2 years ago had been halted.

Tazian has 18 units he would like to complete but cannot until City Utilities and Huntertown settle their differences, he said.

Huntertown must get Fort Wayne’s approval for sewage connections because it regulates the flow received from the town, Hawk said.

The town had already been approved for about 135 new connections among various developers, including Tazian, he said.

Town officials received a notice in October from City Utilities stating Huntertown would be charged $2,000 for each connection plus a $20 surcharge fee, he said.

“(City Utilities) is not going to approve anything unless we give them a written commitment and agree to their terms,” Hawk said.

“One option is to just pay the charges in order to proceed (with development) and, if in two years we have a wastewater treatment plant, this issue will go away,” Utilities Service Board President Andrew Conner said.

“On the other hand, we’re setting a precedent if we agree to pay Fort Wayne and we do not get a plant.”

Utility board members agreed that the issue could not be decided until after a court hearing Thursday between Huntertown and City Utilities.

“I am surprised by this – we had pre-approved (connections),” Hawk said. “This is a new wrinkle, and I will ask them about it Thursday.”

Utility board members declined to make a decision Monday but told Tazian they would make a decision soon, possibly at the next meeting.

“This is all just getting a little bit silly,” Tazian said.