Proposed Route 611 Restaurant Granted Sewer Request

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners approved a request for sewer capacity for a Route 611 restaurant in spite of its impact on the Lewis Road sewer project.

The commissioners voted 5-2 last week to approve a request for 15 EDUs (equivalent dwelling units) for the Island Oasis property on Route 611 across from Frontier Town. Commissioners Diana Purnell and Chip Bertino voted against the request after staff confirmed that it would affect the cost of the Lewis Road sewer extension project.

“My concern is that if we give these EDUs it puts Lewis Road in a very bad position and we’ve worked for this about 20 years now,” Purnell said.

According to staff, ES Adkins and Company submitted a request for 15 EDUs from the Mystic Harbour Sanitary Service Area (SSA) to serve the Island Oasis property in December. Because the property is in the Landings Sanitary Service Area, the county’s sewer committee rejected the request. The commissioners, however, asked the request be given further consideration.

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan, a member of the sewer committee, said the property already had eight EDUs — enough to serve an 80-seat restaurant — and was in the planning area for the Lewis Road sewer extension project, which will connect properties with failing septic systems to the Landings Wastewater Treatment Plant. Shannahan pointed out that the Lewis Road project was the number one priority of the commissioners in their latest strategic plan.

He told the commissioners if the Island Oasis was granted EDUs from the Mystic Harbour SSA, the cost of the Lewis Road project would increase. Initial cost estimates put the price of sewer extension for Lewis Road at $28,000 per EDU. If the EDUs set aside for Island Oasis are eliminated because it’s served by the Mystic Harbour SSA, the cost of the project will increase to $32,000 an EDU.

“If the subject property was removed from the Landings Sanitary Service Area, that service area would suffer financially due to the lost revenues and a reduction of their customer base needed to help cover the ongoing cost of operations,” Shannahan said.

Commissioner Jim Bunting pointed out that while the Island Oasis property was in the Landings SSA, it was right across the road from the Mystic Harbour sewer line. He said it would take 4,000 feet of pipe to connect the property to the Landings SSA.

Bunting made a motion to approve the EDU request by giving the property 15 EDUs from the Mystic Harbour SSA.

“This is going to be a definite boost to us,” he said. “We’d be selling 15 more EDUs from Mystic Harbour. I don’t see a negative effect on our project with Lewis Road.”

Bertino asked staff whether granting the request would indeed have a negative impact on the Lewis Road project.

“I believe it does because the cost of the Lewis Road expansion is going to be a set cost divided by the number of EDUs that are going to be served,” Shannahan said. “Those number of EDUs to be served is now going to be reduced by eight initially.”

Attorney Hugh Cropper, who represents the Island Oasis property owner, asked if he could speak. Purnell said he could not, as it was not a public hearing.

“I’m going to blurt it out,” Cropper replied. “If you don’t run the pipe to Island Oasis, isn’t the project cheaper? You’re running less pipe, less infrastructure. It seems to me it would be a lot cheaper.”

Purnell said it was not. When she called for a vote, the motion to grant the request for 15 EDUs from the Mystic Harbour SSA passed 5-2, with Purnell and Bertino opposed.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.