The Northern Westchester Examiner

December Vote Set for Controversial Somers Sewer Project

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A vote on the controversial proposal to create a sewer district in Lake Lincolndale and Lake Shenorock in Somers will go before the voters in December.

The Town Board voted unanimously October 10 to schedule a special meeting on October 16 at 4:30 p.m. to set the date for the special election to determine the fate of Sewer District #2.

The issue of creating the district has been debated at several recent Town Board meetings, with most residents opposing the project.

If residents approve the new district in December, the Town Board would need approval from the Westchester County Board of Legislators to expand the county sewer treatment plant in Peekskill and the proposed sewer district plan would also need to be okayed the office of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli,

The proposal would ultimately cost about $62 million and town officials have said they are actively applying for grants to reduce the cost of the project. Somers is eligible to use $10 million from the New York City DEP for the first phase of the project.

Costs would include capital construction, buy-in to the county sewer district for 10 years (which would cost between $170 and $184 annually) and annual operations and maintenance costs,

The plan is to complete the project in three phases. The first phase, which would include 65 properties in Shenorock and Lincolndale, would cost between $10 and $13 million. The second phase, which would include parcels in Shenorock, would cost between $28.1 and $30.1 million. The third phase, which would include properties in Lincolndale, would cost between $21.1 and $22.1 million.

The cost for the average home in the new district would be $1,200 annually at full buildout, but the town is looking to reduce the cost by obtaining state and federal grants.

The plan is to ultimately have 985 properties included in the sewer district. The town is planning is to take out a 30-year bond to pay for the project.

Opponents of the project continued to express many concerns at last week’s meeting. Resident Linda Luciano was one of several residents in the area who said last week they were not made aware that the town had been working on the creation of the sewer district for two years. Many residents have not read the town’s report on the proposed sewer district, she said. In addition, she said residents should have been asked for their input before the town moved forward on a formal proposal for a new sewer district.

Luciano said more than 200 residents in both lake communities have signed petitions seeking the referendum. She added the report from the town’s consultant had inaccuracies including leaving six properties off the map.

Rather than installing sewers, Luciano maintained the town should seek alternatives to preserve water quality in the area, including controlling runoff that contains road salt during the winter, adding the town has not gone after people in the areas with failing septics.

“There are so many things that are unfair with this project,” Luciano said.

Councilman Richard Clinchy said the $10 million is only being provided by the New York City DEP for sewer projects.

Steven Robbins, project manager for Woodard & Curran, which has been hired by the town to create the sewer district for Lake Lincolndale and Lake Shenorock, addressed several questions asked by residents at last week’s Town Board meeting. Several residents chided the town for allowing representatives of Woodard & Curran to attend another meeting October 3 rather than be at the Town Board meeting.

Robbins said residents in the proposed district would need to give their approvals prior to work being done on their land. Horton Estates are condos and are not R-10 single-family homes and that is why they were not included in the proposed district, he said. In response to a question from Clinchy, Robbins said if Horton Estates residents want to enter the sewer district they would need to petition the town for inclusion.

According to the DEP, septics place unhealthy nutrients into groundwater and make their way to waterways to damage water quality even if the septic systems are not failing, Robbins said.

Town Attorney Roland Baroni said to be eligible to vote in the special election a person or company would have to own at least one property in the proposed district. If there are more than one person is on a deed, each person would get a vote. A company that owns a vote will also receive one vote, he said. A person does not need to live in the proposed district to have a vote, Baroni said. The vote limit would be one per person or company.

The deadline for petitions to create the referendum was October 11 and the vote will need to be taken between December 11 and 25, Baroni said.

Supervisor Rick Morrissey said he supported the concept of holding a referendum. “This is a good thing,” he said. “Everyone has a vote.”

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