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Norton Council takes steps to improve city’s sewer system

8/29/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Julia Kazar

It’s no secret sewer systems have been a big discussion point in Norton for several months now, and the Aug. 26 Norton City Council meeting was no exception.

At the beginning of the meeting, Councilman Bill Mowery (Ward 3) moved to table an agenda item declaring it necessary to improve select streets in the Nash Heights area by adding sewer systems.

“I’m always leery of anything that is declared as an emergency,” Mowery said.

The item was declared an emergency because Council members felt it needed immediate attention due to the possibility of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fines.

Earlier this month, city officials said they believe an Ohio EPA order to proceed on sewers in the Nash Heights neighborhood is imminent. The city received a letter from the Ohio EPA July 23 that indicated the agency plans to order the project to begin to deal with issues raised from failing septic systems in the neighborhood.

According to the letter, the Northeast District Office of the Ohio EPA collected samples from Hudson Run and its tributaries and tributaries to Lake Dorothy in the Nash Heights area June 19. The agency said tests showed that the E. coli levels in the streams “far exceed the public health nuisance standard” of the Ohio Administrative Code.

“There’s a good chance there will be four new faces at this table soon,” Mowery said, “and I feel we should table this item till that time.”

Councilman Todd Bergstrom (Ward 1) disagreed.

“We need to keep moving forward with this issue,” he said. “Tabling isn’t good for anyone. It’s my understanding that talks and negotiations are starting to take place, and that needs to continue to happen.”

Councilman Scott Pelot (at large) said sewers are coming no matter what. What needs to be done, he said, is find the most cost-effective and best options for all residents.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a grant writer employed by the city of Norton to write grants and get us those finances,” Pelot said, “so we have to work together to find solutions ourselves.”

Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey (at large) said because of how land is divided up, if sewers are put in, some landowners will end up paying for two assessments. She wanted to give residents time to combine properties if need be, before addressing the issue.

“Pushing through on this right now, before residents have the chance to make these changes isn’t good for anyone,” she said.

Bergstrom said the item is only stating Council members agree action needs to be taken, and no formal decisions would be made with the resolution. He also said it was only a first reading, meaning that it will appear before Council two more times before it is voted on. The item was kept on the agenda.

In other business, Council:

  • approved an ordinance to amend the appropriations for the current expenses of the city for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31 with a vote of 5-2, with Whipkey and Mowery voting against it;
  • approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to execute and deliver a memorandum of understanding with Summit County for the purchase of the Norton Sewer System with a vote of 5-2, with Whipkey and Mowery voting no;
  • was reminded about Community Days at the Akron Zoo Sept. 1-5. Norton and Barberton residents can receive free admission to the zoo; and
  • was informed that document shredding day will take place Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon at the sports complex. There is a limit of 10 boxes/bags that each individual may shred. Another shredding event will be held in October.

Council next will meet for a work session Sept. 3 and for its regular meeting Sept. 9, both at 7 p.m., in Council Chambers at the Safety-Administration Building, 4060 Columbia Woods Drive.

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