Kettering mayor to neighbors on sewer problem: ‘It’s been too damn long’

Maplecrest Drive residents who have had to deal with ongoing problems with their sewer lines since December of 2017 approached both the county commissioners and city council on Tuesday to say the fiscal burden attached to the repairs should not fall on homeowners and that the project is taking too long to complete. FILE

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Maplecrest Drive residents who have had to deal with ongoing problems with their sewer lines since December of 2017 approached both the county commissioners and city council on Tuesday to say the fiscal burden attached to the repairs should not fall on homeowners and that the project is taking too long to complete. FILE

Residents of a Kettering neighborhood dealing with ongoing sewer line problems for more than two years this week asked city and Montgomery County leaders for help dealing with the cost of the solution.

Maplecrest Drive residents told county commissioners and city council members that the financial burden attached to the repairs should not fall on homeowners and that the project is taking too long to complete.

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The city of Kettering and Montgomery County officials previously disagreed about whose jurisdiction the Maplecrest homes fall under.

However, the city’s law department found records indicating that Maplecrest and other neighborhoods in northwest Kettering were originally part of Carrmonte Sanitary Sewer District, which was created in the 1920s. Since the sewer district was created prior to formation of Kettering, the city said the sanitary sewer lines – and this problem – are Montgomery County’s responsibility.

About 10 homes don’t have their own pipes going directly into the county’s sewer system, but instead are inter-connected. Because of the unique setup, when one pipe breaks or has problems, it’s much harder to fix.

David Swanson, engineer with the Montgomery County Environmental Services, told those affected that the county wants to move the connections to a private sewer line, then connect that to the main line, which would allow each house to have its own connection.

The preliminary cost of the project has not been officially determined — the design phase is not complete — but those in attendance at a public meeting in Kettering were told last year that the cost would be about $241,890, with owners being assessed a portion of the cost via a lien on their property for up to 20 years.

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Maplecrest resident Gary Wagoner has been a critic of the proposed cleanup process initiated by the county, and he is opposed to the fiscal responsibility being assigned to homeowners.

“So far we have seen nothing done on Maplecrest,” he said. “We are facing a $150,000 assessment and possibly more.”

Pat Turnbull, the Environmental Services director, said he is the staff member closest to the project, and the county is currently in the process of doing a detailed design.

“As soon as that’s completed, and when we’ve got information that we can share with the homeowners, then we will be scheduling another meeting with the homeowners,” Turnbull said.

Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said, “As soon as we finish the design, then we will let you know the next steps. We are going to do this the right way. Give us the opportunity to finish the design.”

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At Tuesday night’s Kettering council meeting, Wagoner hurled insults at council members, demanding that the city put more pressure on county commissioners.

Patterson said the conversation needs to remain civilized, and council needs to apply pressure to the county to get the project done.

“From my perspective, it’s been too damn long,” Patterson said, regarding the length of the project. “The county needs to step up and get it done. We need to do a better job of keeping people informed. I think we can do better.”

Jenny Harlow said a line connecting her house to the county’s sewer system is broken, causing it to back up in her basement.

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“Can you imagine not having a shower, dishwasher or basic water for two years?” Harlow asked. “I got an estimate of more than $40,000 to fix the problem. I’m not sure, but at least for some of us, we can’t afford to get this fixed. Mine was the original problem back in December of 2017.”

Councilman Bruce Duke said that residents should keep putting pressure on the county to make sure the project gets completed in a timely fashion.

“The Montgomery County Commission are the ones that can move this project forward,” he said. “We can’t do it for you. We don’t have the authority or the power to do that. So, please keep the pressure on them.”

Resident Amber Hicks spoke Tuesday night and noted having to pay for the fix proposed by the county creates an extreme hardship for those needing help on Maplecrest with the sewer repair.

“We should have to pay zero individual dollars for sewer lines that the county approved and is responsible to service,” Hicks told council. “We’ve been paying utility bills, essentially phantom dollars, to maintain (sewer lines) for the last 90 to 100 years.”

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