FRANKLIN - The city of Franklin is looking into expanding sanitary sewer and municipal water services to houses near 76th Street and Oakwood Road, a change that could cost affected residents tens of thousands of dollars.

The city sent out a survey to all the residents who would be affected by a possible sewer and water extension asking if they would be in favor of receiving the city services. Some residents in the area are already connected to city water, and so would only need sewer, while most residents have neither.

City engineer Glen Morrow said the area has been surveyed twice before when developers were looking to build in the area. This time, Neumann Developments is looking to build a subdivision and is requesting city sewer and water for the future homes.

According to the city's unified development ordinance (UDO), any subdivision like the one proposed must be connected to city sewer and water. So, in order for the development to occur, some sort of extension would need to be made.

Cost to residents

The survey also included estimates of what each property owner would have to pay, since they would now be benefiting from the services. These estimates varied depending on the length of the property, but on average each homeowner would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars.

Some residents felt that this would be unfair.

"For the record, I'm not against efforts to develop land in this area. However, if the city or a developer want to extend water or sewer lines, they can pay for the project. Even if what the city is trying to do is legal, it is a horrid abuse of power," said Jim Schabowski, a resident of the area, in a letter to My Community Now. Schabowski said the estimate he received was over $50,000.

City policy

It's city policy, per the Franklin Municipal Code, to specially assess a property for the cost of the utility improvements that would benefit the property, the city communicated in the survey letter to residents.

The cost to each resident is based on their property's frontage, or length of the property adjacent to the road where the sewer and water lines would be.

"We tried to be completely honest, in the worst case scenario what will this cost you," explained Morrow. "A lot of properties have large frontages, so they are seeing large assessments."

Even though the city offers financing options so residents would not have to pay in one large check, some residents, like Schabowski, still feel that the benefit is not worth the cost, as the residences currently have private septic tanks.

Developing a plan

Residents were asked to respond to the survey by Friday, April 14. Though Morrow said he was unable to talk specifically about the results at this time, he did say that many residents were in favor of extending the services.

The results will be presented to the common council at a later date, likely during a meeting in May. The council will take the survey results into account when they vote on the project plan.

Right now, Morrow said the city is currently interpreting the results and trying to draw a plan that would bring the services to those who said they want them, while trying to go around anyone who said they don't want the services.

Of course, it wouldn't be possible to avoid everyone who responded no, Morrow said, especially if their property is surrounded by others who requested sewer and water. However, he said he does think "Most people will be happy with what we come up with."

This plan, along with the survey results, will be presented to the common council. The council, then, will have the final say on whether city sewer and water is brought to the area. No date has been set yet for the vote.

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