NORTH WEBSTER — A crowd of 250 attended the official public hearing on the petition to form the Tippecanoe-Chapman Regional Sewer District tonight, Wednesday, June 26. The number was less than those who attended a public meeting Sept. 29, 2018 when attendance was estimated close to 400 and information about the proposal was presented. Tonight’s public hearing was held in the gymnasium of the North Webster Community Center.
Tonight’s meeting conducted by Indiana Department of Environmental Management was in accordance with state law. The hearing was to receive public comment regarding the petition filed by the Kosciusko County Commissioners. It was noted comments were to be based on evidence if the district should or should not be formed and facts. It was also noted no questions would be answered that evening.
Most of those who spoke Wednesday night were in favor of the district being formed. There were some who were not in favor while others had no opinion one way or the other, just asking that something be devised so a rate would not have to be paid for the months their property was not used.
IDEM officials heard comments from 36 individuals, mostly residents of Tippecanoe Lake.
Ted Burnworth, Tippy Lake, noted it was everyone’s responsibility to be good stewards of the lake. He noted eliminating septic system would take “wastewater away to a place where it could be treated and returned … save wetlands and improve our quality of life and ensure good water.”
Comments were heard from individuals who stated there are a number of septic tanks and leach fields below water level and providing pollutants into the lake. Several stated they would be happy to give up their new septic systems for those neighbors whose septics are faulty and get them out of commission.
Some comments were made about the economic impact the lakes have to the county’s economy. “If we allow the lakes to die, there’s a lake in Warsaw that is having problems, there’s a huge amount of tax income that would go away. There would not be anything left and property would not be worth anything.”
Studies over the last 40 years were noted, all of which said sewers were needed, along with how the costs of adding sewers have increased. Many stated the time was now to undertake the project.
One Chapman Lake resident, who is a surveyor, noted he was surprised there was not testing of the affluent line that would tell where the E Coli level was at and how well the filtering system was working. He noted he felt and believed those homes with septics built before 1980 had unacceptable E.Coli counts. Additionally he noted the smell of manure in channels. “Chapman Lake is clean. We need to keep it that way … keep this resource for future generations. Something needs to happen.”
On the opposite side, several residents voice concern over the cost and inability to afford such costs or being made to pay for other people’s problems.
Ron Moser, who noted he spent 30 years in the military, stated he never believed he would see or “think that somebody would force me to do something I didn’t want to do.” He stated “a lot sitting here don’t need it …are being forced to hook up. I’m one of those people who do not have the option of getting a job, or had a job with six figures. The most I made was $42,000. The thing is some people cannot afford it.”
Another resident, stated he was only present 20 weeks out of the year, yet he would be responsible all year for paying for a system he doesn’t use. “I don’t see a reason for it.” Bill Sunday, who noted there were a number of mobile home parks in the area that are not used year around. “There should be something set aside for these people,” he stated. “I’m not against or for it,” he added stating he’s willing to pay for what he uses while he is here.
Carol Edmonds, whose property is currently outside the proposed boundary stated she was concerned she was going to be sucked into the district. She also voiced concern for the elderly who all they have left is their homes and the view of the lake. “Life concerns are not being listened to,” she said. “The commissioners and council don’t seem to want to listen to them.”
Robert Patten suggested use of wetlands to filter the water, which is more ecological and sustainable, claiming IDEM and/or the engineers were not even considering that.
Even a few humorous comments were made, such as one from Rich Wade, East Armstrong Road. He stated he did not live on the lake and had no septic issue. “I have no problem with the sewer. If I have to be on it I believe I should have access to the lake.”
Written public comment on the petition will be taken until July 26 and should be addressed to Angela Bottom, Office of Water Quality, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, 100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN-1255, Indianapolis, IN 46204.