Phoneton area residents told Miami County commissioners Feb. 4 they don’t need, don’t want and won’t hook into a water line that could cost them up to an $8,000 assessment per property.

More than 50 people gathered in the commission hearing room at the Safety Building in Troy for a public hearing on the proposed water line project with a $2.5 million cost estimate.

Paul Huelskamp, county engineer, explained that the potential assessment would be even larger without a $400,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission and Bethel Township trustees’ promise to pay up to $1 million toward the project tab.

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 affects properties along Route 40, State Route 202, Wildcat Road and Shroyer and Dinsmore drives. Property owners who would be affected by the assessment have received notification from the county.

The commissioners will make a decision on whether to move forward with the water line project. That decision can be appealed to the probate court. A date for the decision had not been set as of Monday, Feb. 8.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, Robert Galentine of U.S. 40 said most of the property owners in the area reported they had not experienced problems with their well water. The owners have “strong opposition” to the project, he said, before handing the commissioners petitions stating the owners opposed the assessment funding. More than 80 property owners signed the petitions.

“The signers have no need for the waterline, and would not use it or benefit from it, and accordingly, the assessment would result in significant economic harm to petitioners,” the petitions state.

Susan Donohue, who lives along U.S. 40, said there was a false assumption that the area has bad water wells. “We get our water tested. Our water is good,” she said.

Resident Calvin Holley said he lives on a fixed income, making an $8,000 assessment “an extreme hardship” for him.

Debbie Mitman, also of U.S. 40, told the commissioners the Phoneton area is an older community with several on fixed incomes and said she believed the project appeared to be more for commercial/residential development than for public health.

Donna Bean of Dinsmore Drive said she believed the project “is about Huber Heights coming this way” instead of the quality of the area’s water.

Larry Ewald of State Route 202 said he also owns properties on U.S. 40. He said he’d been advocating a water line project for 29 years. He said he’s seen the EPA shut down businesses because of water-related issues over the years.

“The opportunity to have public water is a real step forward for Bethel Township,” Ewald said.

Joe Sumpter of State Route 202 said he had asked for a water extension for several years but thinks levy dollars already approved by township residents for infrastructure should be used for the water line.

Township Trustee Jerry Hirt said the trustees paid $270,000 for the water line project engineering and have $1 million to use to offset costs.

Hirt explained the township installed water and sewer in the Brandt area with the water line provided and sewer assessments levied. In the Phoneton area, sewers have been paid for and, now, assessment are being proposed to provide the water. “We feel it is only fair the residents pay for the water,” he said.

The township has other needs that require use some of the 3.8-mill levy, Hirt said, and other areas of the township experiencing water and sewer issues.

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