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November 8, 2012

City finalizes sewer deal for East Side Annexation

Residents can require city to provide sewers.

The deal to pass the East Side Annexation was sealed in court, but Wednesday, city officials added a further layer of finality to the agreement.

The Kokomo Board of Works passed a resolution Wednesday to codify the details of a settlement between the city and the east side residents annexed into the city Jan. 1, a deal city officials stressed only applies to the east siders.

Last year, in an attempt to end the three-year court battle, city officials proposed “grandfathering” east side septic systems and farms with livestock, and promising to extend city sewers within a certain time frame to neighborhoods making formal requests.

Wednesday’s move essentially finalized the agreement by writing it into the city’s official policies, city attorney Lawrence McCormack explained.

Attorney Dan May, representing the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the city, said the settlement “solved 90 percent of the opposition.”

“We’ve locked in a time to get [sewer extensions] done,” May told Special Judge Thomas Lett. “We took away from the city’s Board of Works the right to say no or to put us on a waiting list, indefinitely.”

Attorneys representing the city also urged Lett to accept the settlement, and told Lett the remaining remonstrators fell well short of the 65 percent of property owners needed to kill the annexation.

The deal finalized Wednesday affects around 1,700 properties, mainly in Taylor Township, and sets out specifics for how residents can petition for city sewer service.

In the deal, the city will be required to extend sewers in the East Side Annexation area when:

• The city receives a petition signed by 35 percent of the landowners in an area seeking sewer service, provided at least 30 properties are affected.

The agreement allows the city to collect a maximum of $7,250 from each property hooking on ($6,000 toward the cost of extending sewers, plus a $1,250 tap-in fee), and gives the city five years to complete the work.

Property owners who do not want to connect to the sewers, and who don’t sign the petition, won’t be required to hook up.

The agreement also states that a failure by the city to provide sewers within five years of receiving a petition can be considered grounds for disannexation.

McCormack again stressed the agreement only applies to the East Side Annexation area.

The West Side Annexation, which came into the city at the same time as the East Side, came in as the result of the city prevailing in court rulings. The east siders voluntarily dropped their remonstrance in exchange for the sewer deal.

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