Property owners opposing the Miami County commissioners’ decision June 16 to move forward with the $2.5 million Phoneton area water line project said they are discussing their options.

The commission voted 3-0 on June 16 to move forward with the long talked about project that could cost owners up to an $8,000 assessment per property.

The commission held a public hearing on the proposed project in February. They heard conflicting comments about water quality in the area. Many at the public hearing said they didn’t need, didn’t want and wouldn’t hook into the line. Petitions with signatures of more than 80 property owners opposing the project were presented.

The commission subsequently requested updated testing of well water in the project area before deciding whether to move forward. That testing, done by the county health district, showed that of 43 wells tested, 28 were found to be OK.

Before the June 16 vote, commissioners Jack Evans and John “Bud” O’Brien discussed the issue.

“This has been a toughie,” Evans said of examining the pros and cons. On the pro side, he said, the project would meet township goals including providing services in an effort to stem annexation from Huber Heights. The project price probably is the best that can be attained as grant funding continues to be cut, he said.

“When you combine this with the sewer projects done down there, it meets the goals Bethel had set out. Some residents do need safe water,” Evans said.

O’Brien said the decision was one of the hardest he’s faced in a decade on the commission.

While information from the water study did not overwhelmingly show a problem, “there certainly is an issue there,” he said.

The project has a substantial amount of money coming from sources beyond the assessments, O’Brien said. He pointed to $600,000 in grants obtained by the county and money from a Bethel Township tax levy. “Do we wish it was more? Absolutely,” he said.

Referring to comments from some residents who said they thought the township trustees needed to contribute more from a township tax levy, O’Brien said how that money is used was an issue between the residents and trustees. “It is not something I made a decision on,” he said. “When you look at the area, I think it is the best opportunity for the area to meet the goals of the township to have water and sewer at the intersection of 202 and 40 and that vicinity.”

Those services also are seen as a possible deterrent to Huber Heights annexing further into the township, he said.

Property owner Susan Donohue said in response to the vote that the water line project wouldn’t guarantee a stop to annexation.

“Our elected officials have voted to ignore the majority of the people and double tax the 153 parcel owners for infrastructure. We already pay on a 3.8 mill levy for infrastructure and Bethel Township has the money in the general fund for the assessment portion,” Donohue said.

The final assessment bill will depend, in part, on the bids received on the project.

County Sanitary Engineer Paul Huelskamp said the work could get underway and possibly be done yet this year.

In addition to assessments, which could be paid over 20 years (with interest), property owners would have to pay to install the service line from the right of way to their house and a tap in fee.

The project area location is:

- 6163 E. U.S. Route 40 west to 2988 E. U.S. Route 40

- 8745 S. State Route 202 south to 9800 S. State Route 202

- 9275 S. Wildcat Road south to 9605 S. Wildcat Road

- Shroyer Drive and Dinsmore Drive.

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