Meeting of the minds: County entities finalize Waverly sewer plans
Published by: Keith Rhoades, MDT Correspondent
The future of the Waverly Sanitary Sewer System was discussed Friday afternoon by three county government entities.
The Morgan County Redevelopment Commission is building the plant, the Morgan County Regional Sewer Board will operate and own it, and the Morgan County Commissioners oversee both groups. All three bodies met for a combined meeting at the county administration building.
The plant and its service lines are nearly finished. It is estimated work and testing will be complete by the end of February or middle of March.
At this time, there are 17 homes, two churches, Old Town Waverly Park, and the Waverly School that will be connected to the system.
It is planned that the school will be the first connection made to the system. The homes and churches will then be connected.
Commissioner Kenny Hale told of the history of sewer planning in the county. He said several locations were looked at for the installation of sanitary sewer systems but the cost was too high. Many of the locations had hills and valleys that required lift stations, he said.
He said former council member and commissioner Jeff Quyle was a driving force for sanitary sewer systems in the county. He said Quyle’s efforts in the past helped make it possible for where they are today.
Finally they came to the Waverly area. Hale said while the location of the plant was not the best, it was already zoned for the use and there were no close neighbors who would be affected by it.
Morgan County RDC chairman Daniel Elliott told about the history of the plant, how it was not wanted in the beginning but after residents heard more about it, several decided they wanted to connect to it.
County sewer board chairman Eric Acker said there are people who were not included in the first phase of sewer line construction and are asking when the plan to install phase two so they can connect to the system.
Elliott said the RDC does not want to be in the sewer plant business. He said they want to focus on economic development in the county.
“We want to give you the keys and let you take over,” he told Acker.
RDC board member Ralph Foley said the purpose of the RDC is to assist in development that may not have occurred without the assistance of the RDC.
He cited the Waverly School as an example of what the RDC can do.
Dr. Jake Allen, who is part of the Mooresville school district and a nonvoting RDC member, said having access to a sanitary sewer system for the school means the school would not have to be shut down if it’s septic system failed.
“We’re very grateful,” he said.
The most pressing problem facing the groups is the process to turn the plant and its sewer lines over to the sewer board. Much of the discussion revolved around an outright purchase of the system by the sewer board, or a lease/purchase agreement.
After discussing the pros and cons of both plans, the RDC and sewer board decided on a four-year lease with an option to purchase. The agreement comes with the stipulation the lease may be extended for another four years.
The sewer board has already approved an agreement with Aqua Indiana to operate the plant.
Also discussed was the amount of land that will be included in the lease/purchase and any easements needed to access the plant.
The RDC purchase around 88 acres of land in Harrison Township. Part of the land is leased to a private business while a part is used for the plant. The RDC will have to have the engineers determine how much land it needed for the plant and any expansion that may occur in the future, then have the area surveyed to define the land that will be leased/sold. It was generally thought the amount of land needed would be around 10 acres.
There was a discussion concerning a third party becoming involved with the plant. Over the years, both Johnson County and the town of Bargersville have expressed an interest in the plant. Currently there is an agreement with Bargersville to connect three businesses on the west side of the new interstate to the plant. Also in discussion is allowing development on the east side of the new interstate to connect to the plant.
Hale said due to the lack of access from the interstate to property on the west side of I-69, they may not have commercial or business development. He said the land would property be developed for residences. That would mean more homes wanting to connect to the sewer system.
The attorney’s for both groups will meet to work on an agreement, and the groups are expected to meet sometime in February to discuss their progress.