Supervisors move 537 plan
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Despite loud protests, Lemon Township supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to move a 537 plan addressing sewers around Lake Carey to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The original plan – which addresses an area that straddles both Tunkhannock and Lemon townships – had several options which were posted online with a 30-day review period allowing the public an opportunity to register their concerns before Christmas.
Monday was the first formal opportunity for the township supervisors to address the matter after reviewing responses to public input posted by both the engineer – Milnes which developed the proposal – and Harleth Davis, the consultant who has advised both townships along the way.
Supervisor John Keefe put the matter on the table for a vote, but not before listening to residents concerns.
Betsy Kelley Green said she was speaking for many, and wanted to know “why we haven’t gotten back any responses to our letters. Have you seen them?”
Keefe said, “We have seen responses, and they will be a part of what is put forward.”
“Well, how do we see those responses,” Green asked. “Nothing can be passed until we see them. Don’t we have some say in this?”
Davis said the 30-day review period in which the public registered concerns “is an obligation by law and public comments were given with the consultant’s response.”
He added that there was bo obligation to show the responses.
Keefe noted there would be a public document put together upon completion of the present process which should be available at each township building at the appropriate tiome.
Kurt VanDuzer pointedly asked about the 537 plan.
“Are you recommending a certain kind of ‘fix” or are you sharing options?” he asked.
Keefe noted that all options were looked at by Milnes, and he added, “Our recommendation Is for a central sewage system around Lake Carey.
“Do any of you three live at the lake?” Todd DeMillier asked the supervisors.
“No” was the answer of all three.
“I don’t thank that’s fair.” DeMillier said.
John Tidball said a lot of people in the room attended by about 40 want to know how are you going to pay for a $9.5 million project for 385 residents.
“Before you pass this, do you have any idea what it will cost the homeowner?” he asked.
Keefe said, “The cost right now is unstable. To say if and when a decision is made to go forward with sewers around Lake Carey, a couple of things have to be in place.”
He noted, “There have to be some grants available.”
An audience member asked, “Isn’t a user rate required as part of the plan?”
Davis arose from his chair in the audience and went to a large notebook in front of the supervisors.
He noted that “contingent on getting grants, hookups would range somewhere around $1125 a year and $1381 a year.”
“Are you serious?” Jerry Karem of Shore Drive asked. “You’re relying on fiction.”
“We are relying on a possibility,” Keefe said.
Davis explained that he had been in discussion with RES which makes loans available, and “the only way this project will be a go is if the grants are there.”
He admitted that a funding stream was not much compared to five years ago, “so we might have to go on a waiting list.”
He added, “The supervisors have stipulated this project will not move forward until it gives way to an affordable rate.
Janet Breck, said she had heard the the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce was pushing for sewers because it wanted to see development at Lake Carey.
Keefe said that was news to him and he had never heard such a thing.
He said to the other supervisors that he would entertain a motion to adopt the 537 update.
Supervisor Donald Wilson then made the motion and Keefe seconded it, and it passed unanimously with Bob Sichler casting a third vote.
Green said, “We ask you not to do this until the whole lake is here.”
Keefe said, “We move to the next item on the agenda.”
Quite a bit of discussion emanated from the floor, and Keefe told the crowd, “the only ones who have a vote are the three supervisors.”
“That’s part of the problem,” Karem said. “Residents have felt like they have been kept in the dark. How do you do something you haven’t discussed.”
Resident Minturn Smith said it had been discussed time and again over the last couple of years.
“To say the public has been cut out is ludicrous,” Smith said.
“It may be ludicrous to you, but I’m just following the law,” Karem said.
After a bit of pressure from the audience, Keefe said he would allow a vote from the audience to take place that could be part of the night’s record.
Twenty-seven persons raised their hands and said they opposed what the Lemon supervisors were doing.
Only one – Smith – voted in favor.
Tricia Thatcher said, “You have to understand that a lot of us are upset that we are not getting answers to our concerns.”
Keefe said, DEP would be getting them and after the process has run its course , “They will let us know. I don’t have a problem with giving responses to people.”
Thatcher said, “We don’t know what’s in there. We feel out in left field.”