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Robinwood Drive homes might have to connect to hospital sewer

September 16, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Homeowners in the Robinwood Drive corridor could have to pay to connect to a sewer line that will be built to service the Washington County Medical Center.

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday is to discuss signing a contract with hospital officials that would bind both parties to an agreement to pay for the sewer line.

City Utilities Director Michael Spiker said he wasn't sure how much the project would cost or how many homes, if any, would have to tap in to the sewer line. Those questions will be answered when specific details are available, he said.

One projection in a memo from Spiker to City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman suggests it could cost property owners more than $5,000 to tap in to the line. The memo makes it clear, however, that the amount used is "for example purposes only."

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The memo said the sewer line needs to be upgraded to accommodate the increase in wastewater usage.

"A large block of residential properties in the northern confines of Robinwood Drive currently utilize private septic systems," the memo said. "At a point in the future, these systems will fail and be required to hook up to the municipal wastewater system. This will be an expensive process utilizing funding, nutrient credit offsets and oversight by the Maryland Department of the Environment."

In addition, the memo said a special assessment district could be assigned to the Robinwood Drive area that could "help garner funds used to offset the initial infrastructure expenditures and could conceivably pay for the requested upgrades."

According to a draft of the contract that is to be discussed Tuesday, the Washington County Hospital Association would pay to construct the sewer line, and the city would reimburse its share to the hospital association within 60 days.

If a dispute concerning the cost of the sewer line arises between the two parties during construction "said work shall continue and the resolution of the allocation of said cost shall be handled independent of the completion of the project and resolved by binding arbitration," the draft of the contract says.

When asked whether city officials should know more about the city's financial obligation before they enter into a contract with the hospital association, Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said it was too early to comment.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he would have to hear more from the city staff before he makes a decision.

"Those questions need to be answered," he said.

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