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Huntertown extends land option

Seeks more time after state denial of sewer plant

– Huntertown officials agreed Thursday to again extend an option to buy property where they hope build a new wastewater treatment plant, even though the applicable permit was denied by the state in October.

The town has appealed that decision.

The extension is effective through April 1, said Vince Heiny, president of the Huntertown Utility Service Board.

The extension would allow the town to buy the 26-acre site for $393,500.

The town will pay $10,000 to extend the option through April 1, with $5,000 going toward the purchase price should the town buy the property, Heiny said.

Should the sale fall through, the property owner retains the $5,000, Heiny said. The site at 2214 and 2232 Hathaway Road is owned by William Snaufer.

The town council approved the first purchase option for $1,000 in August 2011 and extended that option last summer at a cost of $5,000.

Huntertown resident Dave Garman was in the audience to ask the same questions he had asked Tuesday during a town council meeting.

The council could not answer utility questions, Garman was told Tuesday, and he was directed to the utilities board.

“How much more will we spend on this appeal?” Garman asked Thursday.

He asked if the board would consider capping the amount or issuing a deadline.

According to figures he received from the deputy clerk-treasurer this week, the town has spent almost $100,000 on legal expenses for the appeal, Garman said.

Heiny said the utilities board was new and had not been involved in prior decisions.

“This board has made no decisions, but it’s probably in the best interest of all in seeing it through,” Heiny said.

“I guess the sky’s the limit,” Garman later said, “because some appeals can take years.”

The utilities board is newly formed and conducted its first meeting in February, Heiny said.

Residents voted in support of a referendum on the 2012 spring ballot to create a new three-member board that would have no more than one council member, and then affirmed that vote in November with a ballot question.

The previous utilities board, disbanded in December, included all five council members.

Huntertown officials, in response to rapid growth and substantial rate hikes from Fort Wayne City Utilities, were hoping to build and operate their own $11.2 million sewage plant.

They planned to break ties with Fort Wayne City Utilities, which has provided the town with sewer service since 1988. That contract will expire in April.

The permit for the proposed plant was denied five months ago with IDEM officials reasoning that the plant would cause significant pollution to Geller Ditch, where the treated water was to be discharged, and that other cost-effective measures are currently available.

The appeal is currently under the consideration of the Office of Environmental Adjudication in Indianapolis.

vsade@jg.net

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