Residents reject E'town sewer project

ELIZABETHTOWN - Residents here have voted down a plan to establish a sewage treatment system, but a viable alternative may be on the horizon.

A Jan. 25 referendum on the proposed Sewer District no. 1 was rejected by a vote of 78-44, turning down a plan that had been unanimously approved by the Town Board.

The turnout represented roughly half the number of eligible voters - those who own land in the proposed district. About a dozen absentee ballots sent out had yet to be counted Jan. 26.

Many residents, including several members of the town's planning board, expressed public opposition to the project prior to the vote, raising concerns about its cost and environmental impact.

Elizabethtown Supervisor Noel Merrihew said, after having spoken with engineers and state agencies about possible alternatives, he intends to solicit an exit survey of voters to find out their reasons for rejecting the plan.

"Was it specifically the plant siting, or was it generally the economic burden?" Merrihew said, noting his belief that a "mobilized faction" opposed the project mainly because of the plan to build a sewage treatment plant on Woodruff Lane.

Meanwhile, Merrihew said, the board will consider whether to revisit previously considered sites for the proposed sewage plant.

"I think they all would like to take a step back, regroup, and see what everybody's input is going to be," said Merrihew, adding that it would be foolish to go forward without the support of residents for an alternative site.

"Everything is time sensitive right now," said Merrihew, noting state and federal funding for the project is in danger of disappearing if no acceptable alternative is found.

Much of the project, which was estimated at $9.5 million, was to be defrayed by grants from U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state-run Environmental Facilities Corporation.

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