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City boards endorse service extension

BUCKHANNON — The City of Buckhannon’s water and sanitary sewer boards have endorsed a plan to extend water and sewer service along Route 33 by working with J.F. Allen and other property owners.

During a special combined meeting of the two boards, members heard from city officials and Potesta Engineering about what had transpired over the last few weeks.

J.F. Allen had brought a proposal to the City of Buckhannon in which the water and sanitary sewer boards would contribute about $290,000 toward owner development of the water and sewer utilities, Mayor David McCauley said in in a statement he read at the meeting.

“Philosophically, city officials were challenged to accept a concept whereby our utility boards would be paying property owners for their labor to develop utilities on their own properties despite the utility lines ultimately being dedicated to the city’s respective boards,” he said.

Instead, the city countered with a roughly $276,000 proposal – with the city collaborating in the acquisition of materials and the two boards contributing $100,000 each toward realization of water and sewer service on the southside of Route 33 West.

Director of finance and administration Amberle Jenkins said Friday the two boards voted to support the participation with J.F. Allen and contribute $100,000 each to the southside of Route 33 for respective water and sewer lines that would extend service through several properties to the J.F. Allen property.

Much of the administrative costs of engineering and design have already been covered by the city and the city will contribute to the inspection, permitting and waiver of certain tap fees costs.

The counter proposal was accepted verbally by J.F. Allen but Jenkins said Friday the city was awaiting a formal memorandum of understanding with the company to move the project forward.

The anticipated construction start-up of this project is March 1, 2020 with completion by fall 2020. Although the discussion only focused on the southside of Route 33, McCauley said in his statement that the city believes it is close to resolution of sewer service on the north side of Route 33 West that could start construction in March 2020.

The Upshur County Commission is moving forward with expansion of Tennerton Public Service District’s territory along Route 33 West and will host a public hearing on Jan. 9, 2020 at 6 p.m. in the Upshur County Circuit Room. The order the commission approved to scheduled the public hearing states the county commission has been made aware that there is an area to the west of the City of Buckhannon that is unserved by a public sewer system and that Tennerton PSD has expressed an interest in extending sewer service to the area.

McCauley previously issued a statement calling out the commission’s vote to allow Tennerton PSD to pursue expanding its territory.

In his statement, McCauley said, “As everyone knows by now, our city’s longheld utility territory, particularly for sanitary sewer has been the subject of much debate and threat of removal since September.

“For the past several years now, our city officials have investigated ways to realize water and sanitary sewer utility expansion along U.S. Route 33 West, seeking to collaborate with developers along Corridor H to realize a way forward without the project unduly impacting our already extensive utility operations, or requiring our existing customers to bear the financial burden of utility expansion outside of our corporate limits,” the mayor said.

“The territory in question has been Buckhannon’s exclusive utility territory since 1996, or nearly 24 years now,” McCauley’s statement reads.

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