Franklin Lakes October 7, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 7 Sewer plan explained to inquisitive community by Frank J. McMahon A standing room only crowd of Franklin Lakes residents and business owners turned out last week to hear about the borough’s tentative plan to install sewers in the business district along Franklin Avenue, along Susquehanna Avenue extending to the Mountain Shadow condominium complex, and in the Commerce Street commercial area. Mayor Maura DeNicola advised at the beginning of the meeting that the borough entered into an agreement with the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority in 2006 to consider sewers in the business district and industrial zones, and the council recently began to explore the feasibility of installing those sewers. “The main goal of the council and I is to find a plan with the littlest amount of impact on the tax base,” DeNicola told the public. “This is a journey. A time will come when the council will have to make a serious decision about installing sewers in this town and we want you to be part of that.” James Kelly, the borough’s sewer consulting engineer and head of the environmental department at Boswell Engineering, the borough’s engineering firm, explained that the NBCUA prepared a feasibility study of installing sewers to service the central business district in 2005. In 2008, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approved their plan for that system. The plan includes the construction of a pump station at the Franklin Crossing Shopping Center to pump the sewage flow along Pulis Avenue to the Chapel Road connection to the existing interceptor in Mahwah. Kelly explained that the NBCUA would provide for the regional transport of sewage from these areas to the wastewater treatment plant in Waldwick for processing and disposal. But Kelly said the NBCUA is not in the local sewage collection business and the borough would have to construct and operate the collection sewers, which could potentially also service about 30 residential homes in those areas. The total cost of the sewer project has been estimated at $7.1 million, Kelly said. The NBCUA would pay $3.9 million, while the borough’s cost for installing the collection sewers would be approximately $3.4 million. Borough Attorney Douglas Doyle advised that the municipality’s cost would be “self-liquidating” and would only impact the owners of the properties being served by the sewers. Kelly explained that the users of the sewer system would have to pay an estimated $943 per year to cover the cost of the borough’s debt service, the borough’s cost of operating and maintaining the sewer system, the NBCUA user charge, and the NBCUA debt and operating/maintenance cost. In addition, the users would have to pay a onetime sewer connection fee of $1,755 per equalized dwelling unit, which was defined as one that produces 300 gallons a day. There would also be the cost of hiring a contractor to connect the sewer line to the property owner’s building, which Kelly estimated at between $5,000 and $15,000, depending of the difficulty of making the connection. The sewer system would permit the elimination of six existing sewage treatment pumping stations in the three commercial areas where the sewer system would be installed plus the septic systems associated with them which currently discharge into the ground. Those small treatment plants are located at the Franklin Crossing Shopping Center and the Horizon at Franklin Lakes housing complex on Franklin Avenue, the Franklin Square Shopping Center on Franklin Avenue near Pulis Avenue, the Franklin Avenue Middle School at the corner of Franklin and Pulis avenues, the Franklin Lakes Shopping Plaza on the north side of Franklin Avenue, and the Mountain Shad- ows condominium complex. During a question and answer portion of the meeting, it was pointed out that the sewer system would permit the affected business owners to expand their businesses, and it would provide the infrastructure necessary to allow affordable housing units above the stores on Franklin Avenue, one of the provisions of the borough’s new affordable housing plan which is awaiting certification from the state’s Council on Affordable Housing. Asked if an independent analysis had been done to confirm that a sewer system is needed, and if the cost estimates provided by the NBCUA had been confirmed independently, Kelly responded that the borough has begun a preliminary assessment and, so far, officials are comfortable with the NBCUA plan. Mayor DeNicola added that she has hired a sewer consultant and has appointed a Sewer Committee. In answer to other questions, Kelly advised that the pumping station the NBCUA would build would be able to expand to service a 20- year projection of growth, and that there is no long term plan to include all of the borough in the sewer system. He also said the council would make the decision on whether property owners in these areas would be required to connect to the sewer system. According to Kelly, the construction of the sewer system would take about two years, but the longest lead-time item in the construction is the pumping station. Access to all the affected businesses would be maintained during the time of construction. DeNicola emphasized at the end of the meeting that the forum was intended to share information with the public to keep them informed. She asked for input from the public. Borough Administrator Gregory Hart urged anyone with input about the sewer project to contact him at his office in the municipal building. 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