Ken Jones, president and CEO of the consulting firm Jones Petrie Rafinski Corp., talks to the Kosciusko County Commissioners Tuesday about adding 182 homes on East Webster Lake to the Tippecanoe-Chapman Regional Sewer District. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Ken Jones, president and CEO of the consulting firm Jones Petrie Rafinski Corp., talks to the Kosciusko County Commissioners Tuesday about adding 182 homes on East Webster Lake to the Tippecanoe-Chapman Regional Sewer District. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Kosciusko County Commissioners gave their OK Tuesday on an “application for inclusion” to proceed with the process of adding 182 homes along East Webster Lake to the Tippecanoe-Chapman Regional Sewer District (TCRSD).

Their motion also approved a $40,000 “loan” to get the process going, but the county council will have to approve that funding, too.

Ken Jones, president and CEO of the consulting firm Jones Petrie Rafinski Corp. (JPR), returned to the commissioners Tuesday to present the request for the East Webster Lake. He first made the request to the commissioners at their Feb. 28 meeting, and while the commissioners said then that they were supportive of the request, instead of creating a whole new sewer district, they asked Jones to return after the TCRSD Board gave their support to it.

Jones had visited with some of the TCRSD board members in early February, but the meeting didn’t have all the members presents. Those members who were present delayed a decision on it and suggested having it go to the county commissioners for the commissioners to offer the approved application for inclusion and then the board would consider action on that at their March 13 meeting.

“We did, as requested by the commissioners, go back to the district board at their last meeting and asked them to propose and pass the motion that they would be in support of this,” Jones said Tuesday.

He said the board had a good discussion about it, with a couple concerns, including the initial cost to process the pre-qualifying preliminary engineering report to submit for funding. They also were concerned that, if the project didn’t get funded, they would want to have some sort of “backdoor” on the project.

“We don’t anticipate that happening. It would be a pretty rare occurrence. However, that was a condition that they passed in their motion. ... They would want to reserve ... their full intake on these particular properties contingent on funding,” Jones said, adding that they haven’t processed a project in the last 10-15 years that wasn’t funded in some way.

“The key to this will be making sure that we process the project and stay in touch with the funding agencies to the extent that we can deliver a reasonable (sewer) rate,” he said.

He asked the commissioners to approve the application for inclusion, and then it would go back to the TCRSD Board for final approval.

“The only other thing I would like you to consider is, again, we had talked to legal representative for the Tippy-Chapman group, their fiscal advisor and they have given us quotations for providing their services to advance the preliminary engineering report to funding application. We’ll also need to complete an environmental study. That would include historic, archaeologic and wetlands. And the total of those numbers, we’re looking for about $40,000, and we understand that if you chose to approve that, we would go next to the council to make the same request,” Jones said.

JPR will hold its invoices until the project is funded, he stated.

Commissioner Bob Conley asked county attorney Ed Ormsby if he understood what was going on. Ormsby was attending the meeting virtually and is one of the TCRSD Board trustees.

Ormsby said the application will go back to the TCRSD Board, which is in support of the addition of the East Webster Lake homes. The board just doesn’t want to take them on into the district until they know there’s adequate funding to do so, and in the meantime they also don’t want to incur any liability by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, “or anything like that,” he said.

However, Ormsby said, the board was in full support of the commissioners signing the petition.

Commissioner Cary Groninger asked Jones for clarification on the $40,000 they would be needed. Jones said it would cover legal, fiscal and necessary environmental studies. He said when the project goes to final funding or the project is completed or the funding is closed out, the $40,000 could be returned to the county.

Groninger made a motion to approve the request, saying that while the $40,000 is additional money, it’s considerably less than having to form another sewer district.

Commissioner Brad Jackson agreed with Groninger and said, “I really appreciate the Tippy-Chapman Board being the one to do this. I know this has been a couple years in the making. People on Webster really worked hard to get this done, so it’s appreciated. And Webster’s been half sewer for decades now.”

He said it was a good thing they were finally “finishing it up.”

Groninger’s motion was approved 3-0.

Also Tuesday, Steve Henschen, engineer with JPR, presented an application for inclusion of territory in the TCRSD.

The location of the two parcels is along Forest Glen Avenue at 3675 and 3663.

“These two property owners have come forward, requesting to be included in the district, even though they are brand new builds that were permitted to have an on-site septic system. They’ve currently installed only holding tanks. They never went forward with the absorption fields,” Henschen said. “They had an understanding because they have properties across the road that are on the lakefront; their properties here were in the district. They actually were not included. The district territory was basically down Forest Glen Avenue there.”

One of the property owners had a letter from the district from 2018 stating that their properties were in the district.

“Because of that, the district feels obligated to bring those properties in, and they’ll bring them into the project without additional upfront costs of these property owners because of the timing of when they  originally told they were part of the district,” Henschen said.

The district’s engineering committee and full board fully supports the inclusion of territory, he said, and the next step was for the commissioners to accept the parcels into the sewer district territory.

The commissioners approved the request 3-0.

Henschen said they’ll probably be back to the commissioners in about four weeks with at least two other properties whose owners want to be included in the district. Those properties are on the west side of CR 300.