The City of Greencastle is once again looking at extending its sewage utility to the U.S. 231 corridor north of the city, but only if residents and property owners in that area want the project.
The Putnam County Fair Board has been asked to consider supporting the project as a solution to its own wastewater disposal needs.
Mayor Nancy Michael approached the Fair Board Monday to explain how the project could affect the fairgrounds, while helping the city by connecting its backwash facility at the city water treatment plant into a wastewater system, rather than a lagoon.
Also, a growing number of homes in the Edgelea Subdivision are seeing their septic systems fail, with no room to install new septic fields.
Including the Edgelea Subdivision, county fairgrounds, and businesses and homes along highway and the county road back to the water plant will spread the cost of the project as well as provide revenue to repay the project costs.
"The city has the capacity to provide sanitary sewers to this area," Michael said, emphasizing that she did not want to force the project on property owners north of the U.S. 231 viaduct, which acts as the area's northern city boundary. But the city can provide the sewer service by floating the bonds to finance the project, she said, with the understanding that property owners and those who benefit from it would pay the financing back.
"I think in the long run it makes a lot of sense for this area to be on it," Michael said of the city sewer system.
A committee of residents in that area is willing to coordinate project support in the subdivision, which under the city's latest plan would also see the installation of curbs, gutters and improved roads, as well as storm sewers where needed to handle groundwater runoff.
The county commissioners had already provided $5,000 toward an engineering study on the project, the mayor said, and the design work and a financial analysis have been done to determine the costs.
To reach the affected property owners, Michael requested a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14 at the fairgrounds and invited the fair board to hear information from engineering firm Hannum Wagle and Cline. All area residents are invited to that informational session to hear about the estimated costs, and how those costs will be shared.
One of the requirements for extending the utility, she noted, would be a signed waiver from property owners that they would not remonstrate against a future annexation into the city limits.
For the fairgrounds, many things would not change if the property is annexed, she said. The fairgrounds would not be assessed property taxes. The property already falls within the city's zoning and planning rules, so for development standards, it must already abide by city ordinances.
The city noise ordinance could also be revised to exempt the fairgrounds, city attorney Laurie Robertson Hardwick noted.
The city is not interested in an involuntary annexation of the area, Hardwick said. The procedure states that if 51 percent of the people who live in the area, or owners of 75 percent of the assessed valuation of the area petition the city for annexation, the city must respond.
If that many people file a petition, the city will proceed with annexing the U.S. 231 corridor north to the water treatment plant.
But Michael emphasized the city will not force the issue on anyone.
She did encourage the fair board to look at its expenses on pumping and hauling away the sewage from the property, and to consider how a sanitary sewer system would allow the fairgrounds facilities to expand. Growth is currently limited in part due to the utility issue.
"We weren't expecting you to make a decision tonight, but we are asking you to go home and consider this," she told the board.
Board president Ken Heeke pointed out that the fairgrounds cannot make any changes to its shower and restroom facilities without health department approval, and that approval is unlikely with the present septic system.
Ernie Sheldon said the real cost to the Fair Board would be the infrastructure installation to connect the fairground buildings to the system. But once that is done, "it would give us the opportunity to add on to the property that we aren't able to do now," he said.
The Fair Board agreed to allow the public meeting on June 14.