NORTH WEBSTER – Time has run out for property owners who have not signed easements, the Lakeland Regional Sewer District Board agreed Thursday.
The board also heard that the project has been submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development, and the district will bid work out in phases once given the go-ahead.
Because plans have already been submitted, the board determined a cutoff for late easements is necessary. After some discussion members voted to make Thursday the cutoff, citing the extra time and cost to address late agreements at this stage in the project.
Sixty-nine property owners have either refused or not responded to district requests for land access permission, board President Jim Haney said, and responses have dwindled to only two in the past month.
Plans were revised to bypass those properties when underground lines are installed, though they will be required to connect to the sewer system after it’s completed.
Before the vote, Haney suggested tabling a decision until next month because Umbaugh and Associates hasn’t finished a user count yet. The count will factor into the overall cost of the project, which will determine the loan amount the district applies for.
Once the loan is secured, the district would have to find additional funds to pay for line and grinder pump installation for late easements. Haney said the bypassed properties represent about 40 grinders at a total cost of $250,000 to $300,000, plus the cost to revise blueprints again.
Board members agreed they didn’t want late easements to eat up the 5 percent contingency built into the project budget, at the risk of being unable to cover other costs.
And the board heard Thursday that member R.D. Jones resigned two weeks ago citing the demands of his job, according to Haney. Jones joined the board in July and had been on the pump selection committee.
The district has the names of three replacement candidates, though the appointment is up to Kosciusko County officials.