2009-06-11 / Front Page

Bt. Cabins Outraged By Planned Sewage System

Supervisors deemed "untouchable," commissioners to request info on project
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

being put out to bid, Burnt Cabins proposed "big pipe" sewer system came under fire by outraged village residents last Thursday evening during a sitdown with the Fulton County commissioners.

Fearful of being unable to afford the projected monthly user fees and "tired" of not being heard by the Dublin Township Board of Supervisors, several citizens, including Bob Mathern, Bobby Hall and former township supervisor Derrick Winegardner, aired their concerns to commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, Daniel Swain Jr. and David Hoover II.

The June 4 town meeting organized by the commissioners at the Burnt Cabins Auction House saw around a dozen residents in attendance, with topics ranging from the proposed sewer system and broadband Internet service to the lack of local news stations and improved records retention. As expected, the sewer woes of the small northern Fulton County village as well as the county's renovation project were the main points of discussion between the elected county officials and residents.

Pleased with the preliminary work and forethought shown by the commissioners on their construction project that could reach an estimated $3.7 million in expenditures, Burnt Cabins resident Bobby Hall pointed out most of the village's residents would probably rather pay for a raise in county millage rates than for the township's sewer system.

The proposed sewer system has already been approved to receive a total of $195,500 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which has been earmarked to cover tap fees and grinder pumps. The township has a three-year time frame dating back to 2008 to spend the allocated funding.

In addition, the township has also submitted an additional request for funding through a competitive grant process. If approved, the money is expected to cover the expense of installing lateral lines and electrical upgrades for homes that may not be up to par in meeting hookup requirements. If all the money is received, the projected monthly user fee could mirror that paid by Fort Littleton residents - $57.75.

"Nobody is on the local people's side here," said Hall, who added the supervisors are "untouchable." " ... Nobody hears what we're saying."

Former Fort Littleton resident Sarah Duvall suggested the group could obtain legal representation to fight the township. Bob Mathern replied the group did previously have an attorney. However, he pointed out that if the village residents couldn't afford to pay for a sewer system and already have trouble meeting their monthly utility bills how could they afford to retain legal services.

"The damage is done. What is the recourse? How can it be stopped?" asked Mathern.

Commissioner Keefer said at this stage only a court order to cease and desist could stop the process. The county has no authority over the township, it was noted, but did "go to bat" for the residents before and managed to prolong the actual construction of the Fort Littleton sewer plant.

Hall, Mathern and Winegardner pointed out alleged discrepancies on a list reportedly maintained by the township detailing the number of homes in Burnt Cabins. The group was asked to meet and provide the commissioners with an accurate listing of homes, which numbers in the vicinity of 38 to 42. The commissioners are also slated to ask township supervisors Robert Cromer, Larry "Butch" Dillman and Donald Strait for a copy of the township's Act 537 plan.

"People move to Burnt Cabins because it's a cheap place to live," said Hall. " ... You can bet there will be a lot of liens on a lot of homes before it's all said and done."

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