New sewer line planned
French-Reneker-Associates and the city of Fairfield sent letters to 120 households earlier this month to let them know their backyard could be under construction in the not-too-distant future.
The city of Fairfield is about to begin a project to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility and its conveyance system. The city will focus on rebuilding the major sewer line on the east side of town, because that is where most of the problems are. In many places, rainwater seeps into the sewer main, which causes the main to overflow during heavy rains and discharge untreated wastewater into creeks.
The city may need to obtain easements to homes on the east side of town. That is why the city and French-Reneker are holding a meeting to discuss their plans with the town’s residents. The meeting will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at city hall. Written comments may be submitted to the office of the city clerk at 118 S. Main St., P.O. Box 850.
John Meyer, president of French-Reneker, said representatives from his company will give three or perhaps four presentations during that time about where the sewer line could be.
Meyer said the presentations will occur every half hour beginning just after 5:30 p.m., so residents who arrive late for a presentation will have a chance to hear it again that same evening. Wastewater superintendent Shawn Worley and city administrator Kevin Flanagan will speak about how the city is being required to do this project because of mandates from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The new sewer line will be built in the shape of an arc beginning at the wastewater treatment facility southeast of town and extending north to roughly the intersection of B Street and Kirkwood Avenue. It will not run directly to that intersection but rather run along the outskirts of town, going underneath Pleasant Plain Road and east of Chautauqua Park.
Although the city sent letters to 120 people, Meyer said the final number of easements figures to be lower than that, probably 80. Meyer doesn’t know how many properties will be affected yet because the exact location of the sewer will depend on negotiations between the homeowners and the city and on local topography.
The city has a route in mind it would like the sewer main to run through. However, it could move that line 30 to 50 feet, or in an extreme case as much as 100 feet. Meyer noted there is a limit to how far the sewer main can deviate from the ideal route.
“The pipe always has to run downhill,” he said. “When you move it one direction, it might come out of the ground. When you move it another direction, it might be too deep.”
Meyer said he hopes the route can be finalized by October or November, at which point negotiations with property owners will begin. He said the city hopes to avoid using eminent domain to obtain access to a property and prefers paying the owner for an easement to use the property.
“An easement requires compensation for damages done to the property,” he said. “If you put a sewer line through a property, obviously the owner is restricted from doing certain things over the sewer. If you’re farming, it doesn’t change it a lot, but if it’s in someone’s backyard, it might mean they can’t build a storage building there, so they’re entitled to compensation. It’s up to the appraiser to decide how much that compensation is.”
Meyer said once a sewer line is built on a property, the owner cannot build within 15-20 feet of it.
Attendees to the meeting will be able to examine the proposed sewer line on a map, such as the one pictured at right.
Meyer explained the city must hold an early hearing such as the one Wednesday to get feedback from the public before the project begins.
Meyer added the city will have to buy a couple of properties west of the wastewater treatment facility so it can install an equalization basin there. The city will destroy the homes on the two properties. The homeowners will be relocated and compensated for the loss of their home.
“The law requires us to make them whole,” Meyer said. “It’s very traumatic for people to lose their home. We try to make it as painless as possible.”
Meyer said he hopes construction on the wastewater treatment plant will begin in the summer or fall of 2014 and for the work on the replacement sewer on the east side of town to start in 2015.