A public hearing to obtain public comments on a proposed sewer extension in Watchung drew just three people—two of whom don't live in Watchung but may be moving here soon.
The hearing, held Tuesday at the , was a requirement to obtain Department of Environment Protection approval for the $1.2 million project.
"The mayor and council are fully supportive of this project; we are moving forward," engineer Lee T. Purcell said. Purcell outlined the project, which will enable 36 properties on Johnson Drive and Valley Road to connect to the borough's system.
The total cost of the project will be split between the borough and the properties affected. The borough is seeking financing through the New Jersey Infrastructure Trust, which Purcell said will enable the project to be paid back over 20 years at a 1 percent interest rate.
Property owners will be assessed the approximately $16,667 cost of the project, in addition to the cost of connecting to the extension and removing septic systems, which Purcell estimated would be $16,000 to $20,000 per property.
The only public comment came from Donald Small, a Pennsylvania resident considering a move to Watchung, who asked about the timetable for the project. Purcell said work on the extensions should begin about February, with completion expected 15 months later.
The properties along the extension will see assessments for the project about February 2015.
Watchung Borough Councilman William Nehls, head of the council's Public Works Committee, said the borough is also studying possible exemptions for residents who may not need to connect to the sewer at this time.
"But once your septic fails, you have to connect no matter what," he said.
Complicating the connections also is the terrain on Johnson Drive. Purcell said many of the structures are below the level the sewer extension will be on and will need "grinder pumps" to connect.
"When the assessments are issued, people with grinder pumps will receive a credit towards the assessment because (they) have a more expensive connection," Purcell said. He estimated the credit could be about $2,000.
With the hearing out of the way, the borough hopes to receive NJDEP authorization to advertise for bids for the work in September.