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Septic or Sewer? Town Plunges Back Into An Issue For One Small Street

The township is finally formally considering a request by several property owners on Manee Place, off Holmdel Road, to replace septic with a sewer hookup.

Manee Place is a small low-lying street off Holmdel Road with 10 homes, where the high water table and poor soil is unfavorable to septic systems. In 2008 Manee Place residents petitioned the town for sewers, and a motion was passed by the Township Committee to create a funding ordinance. 

Five years later, nothing has been done, and the 2012 governing body has picked up the request. On August 16, a financial framework was approved by a 3-1 vote, which will allow officials to draft an ordinance and formally re-visit the topic with the street's residents. 

"We're not saying we're going to do it," said Mayor Patrick Impreveduto, one of five voting members on the Committee. "Manee Place people have a right to tell us what they want. If the nine people that are on this block say, 'We don't want sewers,' well, you know what, its your neighborhood. I'm going to vote with you. If they say we want sewers, well it's up to them." 

But the township's longtime engineer, Ed Broberg of T&M Associates, said his professional recommendation is to put Manee on the sewer map. "It's clear in my mind -- very clear in my mind -- that this area needs this kind of sewering." The hookup would be simple, he said. Each home, equipped with a sophisticated ejector system, would be hooked up to a 2-3 inch main buried shallow in the street. 

The assessment ordinance, which has not yet been formally introduced, lays out what the township's contribution will be to the project's cost after the project's completion. It is computed by comparing the assessment of the homes' value with sewers against the actual cost of the project. The lower number is then divided by the property owners on the street.

On August 16, the Township Committee agreed that the the township would kick in 10 percent, or $2,500 per property, not to exceed $25,000, over 15 years. 

"It could be less than this," Township Engineer Ed Broberg. "It could be nothing. It could be more than this."

Officials stressed nothing has been decided. The residents of Manee Place will be surveyed on their preferances once again, publicly noticed of the pending legislation and a public hearing.

No one is sure how the block will take the news. Since their petition was submitted, two of the properties have changed hands, and one resident who built a new house there has since had to put in a mound system that is said to have cost more than $50,000. Others are frustrated by the lack of government action. "I have two residents who call me on a monthly basis," said Township Clerk Maureen Doloughty. 

The availability of a sewer main will mean that all residents will be required to demolish their septic tank at their expense, pay a $1,000 hookup fee to the town, and participate in sewer maintenance costs and quarterly fees. 

Township Committeeman Larry Fink, who is leaving the Committee in November after 12 years, did not vote in favor of drafting the ordinance. He indicated he was still interested in the further research he requested from the engineer in 2008.

Fink also said he was concerned about what happens next. "By taking action tonight, we are advancing ultimately towards installing sewers in that neighborhood."

Township Administrator Andy Katz said that was not the case, that the vote was just a necessary step to allow township officals to engage in a formal process to examine the situation and begin the public process with the residents. 

Mayor Impreveduto, Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds, and Committeeman Joseph Ponisi voted to pass the motion. Committeeman Greg Buontempo was absent. 

JosephGhabourLaw August 27, 2012 at 05:15 PM
As most homes in this area have a sewer system, having the option to convert to that is a boon for this neighborhood. However the cost is nothing to sneeze at. The best move is always cooperation, with the homeowners using the HOA -- or creating one -- to get the work done as a group, which is cheaper. A lien would exist if you didn't pay the HOA, however, most home buyers in NJ do expect sewer service.
Holmdel Dem August 27, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Well said Joseph. Ultimately it should be left up to the homeowners to decide if they want to be hooked up to the sewer system. Given that the Township Engineer is recommending the sewer system, it would seem to be a no-brainer. Leave it up to the homeowners to decide.
Carol Beckenstein August 28, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I thought that this block was "optional sewers," because Lucent's "sole source sewer line" (which also accommodates Satz and the High Scool) runs past Manee and turns up Hillcrest Road and further on through Holmdel to Aberdeen's sewage system. Please correct me if I am mistaken this. If this IS correct, I do not understand why it is incumbent on the taxpayers of Holmdel to take on ANY costs of installing sewers on Mannee Place. If the block's residents "talk among themselves" and find out who is on board, it should not be the rule of the majority but optional. If economically desirable to the people who want sewers, fine. Why encumber the property owners who have just installed a $50,000 mound system? By the way, if THAT is working for THOSE homeowners, WHY NOT ENCOURAGE FUTURE MOUND SEPTICS on Manee? These would alleviate ALL of the problems that the Township Engineer has enumerated, to my knowledge. I think that the Township (and the Township Engineer's firm, T & M Engineering) should refrain from involving the taxpayers or themselves in this issue. While a Mound System could cost more than sewers, I would be surprised if an "eight-home mound system order" wouldn't be VERY negotiable to septic installers in these hard economic times. As a bonus, the homeowners could pace their pump-outs according to family size, make quarterly bills from the sewer company obsolete, and be a help to saving the WATERSHED's quantity.
Nick J. August 28, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Carol, optional sewers? I'm not quite sure what that statement means....except that if these homeowners want sewers and the main line is on Holmdel Road, they can hook up to it....it's THEIR choice plain and simple.
JosephGhabourLaw August 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
It is matter of choice. The issue here, however, that the sewer main did not exist on this street, and article only states the town's potential contribution. This may mean that Holmdel is covering the cost of the main, and residents pay for the final connection. The article does not explicitly state how the funds will be spent.
Carol Beckenstein August 28, 2012 at 03:10 PM
For once, "Nick J." and I agree (Maybe?) To explain "optional sewers:" the homeowners who had access to the line installed by Bell Labs (in the early 90s?) had the choice of hooking up...or not. Perhaps Manee Place corners' properties were included; I hope there is someone reading this who can embellish on the details. The homeowners on Manee who DO wish to hook up should do so; the owners with working septics who do not want to bear an unnecessary expense should not have to...and, neither should we taxpayers of Holmdel. Our Municipal Taxes have gone up over 10% this year and it is time to say "enough is enough!!"!
steve h August 29, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Re:comments Manee sewers....(Ss a Holmdel resident for over 40 years)I recall that the construction of the Lucent sewer trunk (main) line was absorbed by ATT/Lucent. The trunk line does not directly pass the property owners on Manee . The property owners along the Hillcrest route for ATT's trunk line did not have to share and share alike the construction costs for the trunk line. The construction of the line for Manee owners would have to be paid for / shared by all the Manee property owners. Holmdel ordinances at one time mandated that when a sewer line runs pass a property,the owner has to hook up. An option whether or not to hook into the trunk line is simply not optional. What has not (so far) been fully disclosed by our Township Committee or discussed are the full costs to the homeowner and the ongoing charges for sewer fees / rates. The original agenda letter item for the last Township Committee meeting quoted an estimated $25k construction cost to be levied on eacj property. The construction costs did not reveal the possible need for ejector pumps, landscape replacements, removal of septic systems and the pending sewer line lien on property owners' deeds that must be paid prior to selling their home. If a property owner can afford to pay the estimated $25k construction costs up front cost for theconstruction cost the lien would be moot Unless the Holmdel ordinances have been revised, homeowners do not have a choice to hook up to a sewer that runs pass their property.
steve h August 29, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Property owners with a trunk line running pass their property have to hook up. It is a waste of taxpayer moneys to pay for the Township's engineer to study, draft and review the Manee sewer lines, the Committee would have better advised to completely disclose the real costs and consequences for the project prior to going head long ahead to sewer. In the interest of full transparency,all the Manee homeowners should be fully apprised of the real and complete costs for sewering Manee. In the best public interest, line items of the actual dollars that the taxpayer and current sewer user are expected to pay for subsidizing the Manee sewer line must be included in the published public notice. Every Holmdel person that is expected to front the costs for the new sewer line should be duly noticed.
Carol Beckenstein August 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I wonder how much of that will be done? It is an expensive proposition but we do not know just how expensive. BTW, the Township Engineer mentioned that ejectors will be necessary. I wonder what happens to those if the power goes out?

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