The Upper Milford Township supervisors approved an ordinance March 3 authorizing construction and requiring connections to the $5 million sanitary sewer system in the Vera Cruz area.
This will require about 278 homeowners to pay about $9,000 each to connect to the new public system.
Seventeen people attended the supervisors meeting and one resident spoke out prior to the unanimous vote by the board.
“Are you sure we have to do this now, tonight, the way this ordinance is written?” asked George DeVault of Main Road East.
If the project was occurring because of an order from the state Department of Environmental Protection or from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, DeVault said, maybe there would be funds available to help cover project costs.
Also, DeVault said, “Your septic system doesn’t have to fail” to be included in the Vera Cruz sewer system. “In summary, this is lousy legislation and it is bad government.”
The supervisors didn’t respond directly to DeVault’s concerns. However, when it came time for the vote, Supervisor Robert Sentner said “it might not be a perfect solution” for every property owner in Vera Cruz yet “it’s something that’s needed for Vera Cruz.”
According to Lehigh County Authority documents, a “sewage disposal needs identification” conducted by the township sewage enforcement officer “indicated that on-site wastewater disposal systems of about 219 of the developed properties had some degree of malfunction.”
LCA documents also mention an awareness of some septic system problems in the area dating back more than 20 years.
The public sewer project will provide public wastewater service to about 278 properties in the Vera Cruz area. About 260 will be required to connect to the system. The remaining 18 properties are vacant.
According to LCA documents, the Second Class Township Code requires “all properties that are adjoining or adjacent to or whose principal building is within 150 feet from the sanitary sewer to connect.”
On Feb. 28, the LCA approved contracts for the project, contingent on the supervisors’ March 3 vote, including general construction, grinder pump supply and service, and construction engineering.
Construction is expected to begin in late March or early April and be completed by the spring of 2012. The vast majority of the property owners in the area are single-family homes and the conversion from septic to sewer will cost those homeowners nearly $9,000.
However, property owners can get funding assistance, including loans from the LCA with 4 percent interest, with a term between 1 to 5 years payable in monthly installments. Residents might also consider a home equity loan. Also, people with low to moderate incomes might be eligible for funds from the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
In other business on March 3, township Manager Dan DeLong said he will put together a report for the supervisors regarding a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission request for action on Mill Road. The supervisors will discuss the matter at their next meeting on March 17.
The turnpike commission plans to widen bridges and roadways on a section of the Turnpike that runs between Emmaus and Vera Cruz in preparation for widening the Turnpike to three lanes in each direction.
The Upper Milford Planning Commission is recommending to the supervisors that Mill Road remain open and the bridge be replaced around it. Project costs would be covered by the Turnpike Commission.