Proposed Sewer District Voted Down By Residents

FINDLEY LAKE — By a 10-vote margin, voters turned down a proposed sewer district around Findley Lake and a public sewer system project.

The count was finalized Friday in the town of Mina with 202 individuals voting in favor and 212 locals voting against the proposed district. Last week, 158 voters went to the polls to issue ballots in support of the district. A total of 182 took to the polls to say “no.”

Seventy-four absentee ballots counted Friday morning found 44 voting “yes” and 30 voting “no.”

In total, 414 property owners within the proposed district went out to vote. Formation of the district would have moved a $14 million public sewer system forward.

“We certainly are going to honor the vote and we don’t have any intention of doing anything other than we did our best to present information to the public,” said Rebecca Brumagin, Mina town supervisor. “They decided what they wanted to do. There’s nothing we plan on doing at this point in time.”

With the proposed district voted down, the county Health Department will prepare to deploy its resources to inspect septic systems that are more than 30 years old or have no record and are within 250 feet of the lake. Property owners near the lake were alerted to possible inspections if the sewer district was voted down.

Mark Stow, county environmental health director, said the inspection process could begin this month. Information will be going out to property owners explaining the process and scheduling.

“Quite frankly, as high as 40 percent of these systems were installed before permitting was required, so we don’t really know a lot about them,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a public health issue. The nutrients are the root cause of that. We have to move forward and try to eliminate as much as that as we can from the water there.”

Property owners will be required to uncover their wastewater treatment system and hire a state Department of Environmental Conservation-licensed waste hauler to pump out their tanks. The system will be evaluated by visual observation, dye testing and probing to determine capacity and structural integrity.

Overall, Brumagin said she was pleased with over 400 property owners turning out to vote.

“We had about a 58 percent voter turnout, which I think is pretty good,” she said. “We tried to educate people on the impact on the quality to the lake and also about the mandatory inspection system from the Health Department as well as some of the economic benefits of having infrastructure in the community.”

Brumagin said the town board hasn’t discussed whether they’ll re-examine the proposed sewer district and the project.

“There’s no timeframe in terms of bringing it back,” she said.