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Residents balk at possible sewer plant location

The regular monthly meeting of the Georgetown Town Council Thursday night was a lively one as several residents from the Brookstone subdivision area turned out to protest the town’s latest choice for a location of a proposed sewage treatment plant.
Town attorney Stan Faith opened the meeting with a statement about the town’s plans.
‘(Councilman Jeff McCaffrey) has brought to my attention that there is a great deal of confusion about what we are doing,’ Faith said. ‘Jeff has indicated the confusion is widespread, and he thinks it’s important for us to make people understand what our positions are.
‘The O’Brian property ‘ the original site that was chosen for the sewage treatment plant ‘ is still the primary place for Georgetown to put the plant. There has been a lot of opposition to it, and it is now on appeal. We sincerely believe that the judge in that case committed an error and that will be reversed, and we will be able to build on that property. If it takes too long and if it goes beyond June 2008, we incur problems. Then, we would have to look at alternative sites for the plant.’
Georgetown bought the O’Brian property, a 22-acre site off Old Georgetown Road near Edwardsville, last year, but Edwardsville Inc., a group of Edwardsville residents, was able to stop the annexation of the property. The town recently announced the alternative site off Baylor-Wissman Road, near Brookstone.
‘What we have done is look at alternative sites for the plant,’ Faith said. ‘The backup site is what the Brookstone people are worried about. There is a third site that I cannot disclose to you that could also be a backup. We have asked for a permit from (the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management), but that does not mean that we are going to build it there. We are actually going to have three sites before it’s over.
‘If we proceed with the secondary choice that Brookstone is worried about, we will have to go through our zoning. The final act is that we will pass an ordinance stating that it will be built at that site. We will send you notice and you will have a chance to have your input. That should be 15 to 30 days prior to that event. It probably will not happen this summer.’
Faith went on to say that ‘the modern sewage plant does not stink and it does not do all the things you think it does. This is not your father’s sewage treatment plant.’ He also insisted that the town needs to get away from paying New Albany for treating the town’s sewage.
‘This is something that has to be done,’ Faith continued. ‘They (New Albany sell) retail to us and they will not go down in costs. We will not be able to control the cost. We want to put in a wholesale sewage system. The citizens will have some control through their votes and their option to run on the town council. We have to project a generation or so ahead. The people around the O’Brian property have the same fears. It is hard to convince people until it happens. We have to do something with the waste we produce. We have to build a sewage treatment plant. This is, at least, 22 years that Georgetown has been wrestling with its problem on what to do with its waste.’
But the people from Brookstone weren’t ready to negotiate with the town and made reference to a letter the residents recently received from IDEM.
‘You say you don’t know where (the sewage treatment plant) is going to be located. The letter states on May 3, a construction permit has been issued,’ Elizabeth Madden, a Brookstone resident, said. ‘The letter states that we have 15 days to file an appeal.’
Madden indicated that the residents plan to exercise that option.
‘We went to a huge amount of expense and time to buy the O’Brian property,’ Faith said. ‘We do not want to give it up. If we are stopped by the Edwardsville group, we’ll still have to build it. We’re putting together everything we need. If the appeal fails, all we have to do is prepare the ordinance. We have everything ready to do it at the Utility Building site (Baylor-Wissman), but we don’t yet have the ordinance. We’re going to do the same thing with the third property.’
The Brookstone residents weren’t deterred.
‘It’s not that Brookstone doesn’t want a treatment plant,’ Brookstone resident Gina Emerson said. ‘I’m sure we need something, but we don’t want it in our back yard. It concerns me because my daughter has asthma. And how will I be able to sell my house? It could decrease our property values.’
‘Why don’t we set an example,’ Faith said. ‘Let’s work this together to the point that we may end up disagreeing, but let’s gather data. If we have to separate, then we separate. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s see how far down the road we can go. Maybe we can establish a dialogue where we can respect each other. Let’s try to work this out and at least experiment.’
Brookstone resident Mike Madden said that he drove by the New Albany sewage treatment plant twice a day for years.
‘Why on earth would you want to put a sewage treatment plant in a flood plain, by a railroad track and near two popular subdivisions on your main street?’
In other business, Georgetown Police Chief Larry Potts presented a plaque to Officer Ron Haire for 10 years of service. Haire started as a reserve officer in 1996.

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