Sewer line debate continues, even as potential development officially filed
Even as a potential development files official paperwork with the city, Edwardsville council members have not reached an agreement about installation of sewer lines for the city’s northern area.
The council Monday reviewed some additional information about sanitary sewer line options in the northern area, after tabling action to move forward with a line that would serve 165 acres in the area of 110th and Riverview streets. With two council members absent, no consensus was reached, though the Lane 4 Property Group has filed a preliminary site plan for a 27-acre mixed use development.
The site plan was not discussed during the meeting, but Michael Webb, city manager, told The Chieftain the development, currently called Village South, is planned at the southeast corner of Interstate 70 and 110th Street. He said it may include a combination of retail, hotel(s), meeting facilities, convenience stores, restaurants and multi-family.
“As this is a preliminary site plan, changes may occur as it moves forward through the process,” he said.
The council had previously directed staff to move forward with a sewer line connecting to the Little Turkey Creek Interceptor or LTC in Kansas City, Kan., that would serve the area of the proposed development. But the council tabled authorization of funding for the line 3-2 in early November, citing concerns about unexpected drilling costs, buying right of way from the Kansas Speedway and most importantly, installing a line that would not serve more property.
On Monday, Randy Gordon, the city’s contracted engineer, presented some research that had been requested during a two-hour informational session Nov. 23 to review options for sewer line installation.
Councilman Chuck Stites, who has been the main opposition to the proposed northern line, had suggested building a portion of an estimated $7.9 million Betts Creek sewer line, which would serve most of the unserved areas of the city at full build-out, to a temporary holding system.
Gordon confirmed previous conjecture that the state was only likely to approve a holding system for one home or business, not for a large development, and it would be too costly to maintain.
He also discovered that the proposed LTC lift station, which pumps sewer water through uphill lines, should cost the city about $15,000 both in energy and maintenance annually.
Stites asked how much it would cost to build a sewer line connecting to an existing Unified Government line east of Interstate 435, since such a line could serve a larger area, and he would rather pay Edwardsville residents for right of way easements.
Gordon said such a line would require two lift stations, and the cost to bore under I-435 would be greater. Stites asked if the line could run through existing culverts or under the highway bridge at Riverview, but Gordon said the state wouldn’t approve that since it required that sewer lines must be buried.
Stites also said he felt the potential for development at I-70 and 110th Street was limited, which is why he was trying to serve another area he thinks will be prime development at Kansas Avenue and I-435.
Mayor John “Tiny” McTaggart became visibly frustrated with Stites, saying he was going to waste more than $85,000 the city has already invested in the LTC.
“The fact that we would pay the Speedway for right of way isn’t a reason not to do it,” McTaggart said. “Right now, it doesn’t seem very cost effective to go any other way.”
Councilman Jason Gillam reiterated his stance that while a line serving only 165 acres wasn't ideal, it was what the city could afford, and the development it spurred could help pay for the larger sewer lines. Gordon provided his own perspective.
"If you don't start spending money soon, I don't think you'll ever get the momentum you need to get anywhere," he said.
Webb asked if, since a lift station will be needed for the northern area anyway, city staff could at least move forward with it. But council members Craig Crider and Margaret Shriver, who also had voted against funding for the LTC, did not attend the meeting, and council members present didn’t ask city staff for further action. The council’s next meeting is set for January, as the council approved canceling the Dec. 28 meeting because of the holidays.