Union County commissioners Tuesday, May 22, approved two resolutions to move forward with the Raymond-Peoria sewer project.

Union County commissioners Tuesday, May 22, approved two resolutions to move forward with the Raymond-Peoria sewer project.

Groundbreaking on the $5.1 million project, which is more than a decade in the works, could occur in the fall.

The commissioners first passed a resolution that brought the commission's sewer regulations into compliance with Ohio Revised Code.

The initial language required property owners "abutting on any street, alley or right of way in which there is now located or may in the near future be located a public sanitary or combined sewer of the county" to connect at the owners' expense to the new line within 90 days of the official notice to do so.

The county had required that any "foundation wall or structure" that was within 100 feet of the new sewer line would be mandated to connect to the line. In the new resolution, the distance was stretched to 200 feet.

Property owners whose home is beyond that 200-foot boundary still would be obligated to improve their septic system to standards set by the Union County Health Department.

"If those owners have to spend money on a new septic system that brings them up to standard, they may be as likely to connect to the new sewer line, even though we won't compel them to do so," said Assistant County Engineer Mary Sampsel.

The second resolution established the sewer-line connection cost at $3,500 and the monthly sewer fee at $54.

The commissioners already have committed $1.07 million from the general fund to offset the connection fee.

The resolution also directed the county's sanitary engineer to "proceed with the assessment process (in the Ohio Revised Code) for the properties within the unincorporated villages of Raymond and Peoria benefiting from the availability of the public sewers."

Sampsel said a public hearing tentatively has been scheduled for Aug. 2 in the Liberty Township Hall to discuss the project. Raymond and Peoria residents may petition then to be included in or excluded from the sewer connection and may object to the tap-in fee and monthly sewer rate.

"But the $3,500 tap figure and the $54 monthly rate have already been discussed at previous public meetings and shouldn't come as a surprise to the residents," Sampsel said.

The 200-foot mandatory connection is written into Ohio law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture set the monthly rate based on the median household income for the area, and commissioners don't have the authority to lower the rate, Sampsel said.

"(But) the assessment process in the Ohio Revised Code gives the property owners five days after the hearing to submit their complaints in writing to the commissioners," she said.

The county has to break ground in August to stay in compliance with its agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, but bids for the entire project are not likely to go out before September or October, she said, adding construction likely will begin in November.