SNOW HILL – The county will move forward with the construction of sanitary facilities to serve homes on Lewis Road following a vote this week.
The Worcester County Commissioners voted 4-3 on Tuesday to approve plans to extend sewer service to Lewis Road through the use of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $507,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the county received. The commissioners opposed to the plan have objected to the use of ARPA funds for the project.
“As much as I favor this project, and I’m glad it’s going through, I don’t think it’s right that we’re treating folks outside this area differently than we’re treating these folks,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said.
Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs, said the county planned to construct sewer facilities that would connect the Lewis Road community to a previously installed pipeline that connects to the Landings Sanitary Plant. The project will cost $2,025,000, with $1,518,000 funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $507,000 from Worcester County’s ARPA funds. According to Mitchell, the grant from the county would assist with construction costs on the homeowner side related to the cleanout for connection of existing properties to sewer and the proper abandonment of septic systems.
Commissioner Diana Purnell, whose husband owns property on Lewis Road, made the motion to approve moving forward with the project.
“This particular service area is within my district,” she said. “We’ve waited 20 years to get this to take place and I would like to make a motion that we approve this today.”
Bertino said he was voting against the proposal but not because he didn’t want to see sewer extended to the Lewis Road community. He said he didn’t feel the Lewis Road ratepayers should be treated differently than ratepayers in other service areas.
“They are not having to pay for the hookups as Gum Point Road has, as Newark had to a number of years ago,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s right that we treat one area differently than another because we heard a lot of hardship cases when Newark was here yet we moved forward without providing them any sort of subsidy to pay for the hookups.”
The commissioners voted 4-3, with Bertino and Commissioners Jim Bunting and Ted Elder opposed, to approve the construction of sanitary facilities to serve Lewis Road.
In an interview Wednesday, Purnell said she was pleased to see the sewer extension approved, as the process started 20 years ago.
“It’s been pushed back and pushed back,” she said. “It’s taken a lot of work. It’s taken a lot of time.”
She pointed out that a handful of property owners had been in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting to show their support for the effort.
“There’s water and sewer around that area,” she said. “This is making it whole in that area. It’s good for the property owners. They’re really happy.”
She added that the project was in line with state goals, as it would eliminate the failing septic systems in that area.
“It’s a really good thing,” she said.