Some balk on Quincy sewer

November 22, 2000

Some balk on Quincy sewer

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

QUINCY TOWNSHIP, Pa. - So far about 65 percent of the more than 500 Quincy-area property owners asked to give up land for rights of way for the township's new sewer system have complied, the chairman of the sewer authority said Tuesday.

Most of the rest of the owners are expected to give in without an argument, said Authority Chairman George Crouch, 83, of Quincy Village, authority chairman. He expects there will be about 20 holdouts, property owners who for various reasons will fight before giving up their land so a sewer line can pass through it.

"They're digging their heels in," Crouch said. Property owners who refuse to sell land to the authority will have it taken by eminent domain, the forceful taking of land by a public agency, he said.

The Quincy Township Sewer Authority, the agency building the 20-mile long system, has such authority. When completed in about a year, it will serve more than 900 customers.


Crouch said the authority would prefer to work things out with stubborn property owners rather than force eminent domain on them. "It makes for bad feelings," he said.

Under Pennsylvania law, according to Crouch, the authority will take the land it needs, then file a list of the properties involved with the Court of Common Pleas, along with a $500 deposit for each property owner. The court will decide the price to be paid.

The $500 goes to the property owners to hire a lawyer to represent their interest.

"It's a wise provision of the law," Crouch said. "This way some agency can't come in and rip your place apart without allowing you to defend yourself."

Three local real estate agents will be appointed by the court to determine the price of each property taken to help the judge decide on the final price, Crouch said.

Crouch said a public sewer system always increases the value of real estate. "That could be a factor in appraising the value," he said.

He said the authority tries to accommodate the needs of each property owner for rights of way.

In one case a homeowner planned to build a deck near the proposed sewer line on his property. The authority moved the right-of-way boundary back to allow the construction, he said.

The authority bumped up against the rules of a state agency when planning a sewer line over the Snow Hill Cloister on Pa. 997. The local cloister was spun off from a religious community established in Lancaster County, Pa., in 1732.

The Quincy cloister was built on land owned by Andrew Snowberger, an early member of the sect. The cloister built a Nunnery building in 1814. Between 1820 and 1850 the it had up to 50 members so it built a meeting house which stands today.

The members built their own furniture, candlestands, baskets and weavings, all of which were auctioned off in 1997.

Crouch said the Pennsylvania History and Museum Commission asked the sewer authority to move a sewer line away from the cloister's main building out of fear that blasting for the line would disturb an ancient spring under the meeting house and threaten its stone foundation.

The authority complied, he said.

Also, Crouch said, the authority, again at the state commission's request, agreed to hire an archaeologist to monitor the digging around the cloister to check for artifacts. "We already dug up one arrowhead," he said.

Bids for the sewer project should go out by the end of the year with a contract in hand by spring. The contract calls for a 270-day completion deadline. The project includes a new 300,000-gallon-per-day treatment plant.

Property owners will pay a $1,000, one-time hook-up fee plus the cost of digging a line from the street to the house. Owners also have to pay the cost of abandoning their private septic systems.

Sewer rates are estimated at $38 a month.

The Authority is getting a 40-year, 4.5 percent government loan and a $1 million grant to finance the project.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered the township to install public sewers in 1993 because of failing private septic systems.

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