It was standing room only for the public hearing on the proposed Regional Sewer District the County Commissioners conducted Monday evening at 6 p.m. in the second flood meeting room of the County Building.
There were so many people that not everyone got inside although they were able to get answers to their questions with representatives from JPR who had maps and information in the hallway during the public hearing and after.
Ken Jones from JPR opened the meeting and told those in attendance it would be 2-hours and comments would be limited to 2-minutes. He also said the comments and questions said in the public hearing were being recorded and would be included in the petition sent to IDEM.
Jones then reviewed the process from the beginning. In 2019 he was hired by the Marshall County Health Department after the Clean Water Task Force began looking into the issue of failing sewers impacting the water. Thirteen different area were determined to have substantial lot sizes, pour soil compatibility, a significant number of undocumented systems, and issues caused by the required separation between septic systems and the well. Jones said this is an offer for those with little options.
Jones also told the crowd that this is a long-term project that could be out 20 to 25 years or longer depending on funding. He discussed the benefits of a Regional Sewer District and many of the concerns they citizens in the district have asked. After his 45-minute presentation the floor was opened for questions and comments. In total 22 people stepped up to the microphone to primarily ask their questions while there were several supportive comments and a few objections to the funding of the Regional Sewer District.
Some of those who had questions or comments and seemed to be supportive of the idea came from areas included in the District like Lake Latonka, Tippecanoe, Lawrence Lake, Golf View Estates, McQueens Addition and Donneybrooke. A few people who attended the meeting just wanted to have their support included in the petition the county will send to IDEM. Nelson Chipman lives at the Pretty Lake cordiaminums. He said the 34 units have been on one unified septic system for 35 year and it is now showing signs of failing. He said they are pumping and hauling weekly at a cost of $1,100.
Mark Polk said he was opposed to the Regional Sewer District and said he felt like they were being held hostage. He wanted them to spread the cost more evenly to more property owners. Frank Enders on Mill Pond said he was afraid the elderly wouldn’t be able to afford it and force people from their homes. He also said that it should be optional, not mandatory.
John Bernero said he is in watershed management and did a study of Lawrence Lake and said the sewer district was widely needed. Debbie Palmer lives at Myers Lake and is the president of the Lake Max Environmental Fund. She said water quality is important and testing shows elevated human E.coli in the waterways. She was supportive of the Regional Sewer District and when she was done talking she was applauded.
Ken Jones said the comments from the public hearing will be included in the petition to IDEM. As IDEM looks at the petition they will conduct a public hearing on the Regional Sewer District too.