City’s Sewer Ordinance still taps at property owners’ wallets

Waynesboro’s recently amended sewer ordinance fails to address residents’ paying for repairs under the road.

The City of Waynesboro Utilities Committee addressed the city council with the potential need to revisit the ordinance that requires homeowners to pay for repairs to sewer problems beyond their property line, after Mary Yelton Lively brought the issue to the committee’s attention July 12.

“If the city council has made an ordinance requiring all property owners to pay for the main sewer lines and tap to be paid individually by all property owners, do you realize how many people this will affect, young and old, on Sunset Drive?” Lively asked the committee members. “This is truly not fair to any of the property owners.”

Council members voted July 19 to grant property owners temporary relief from part of the sewer ordinance that pins “all costs and expenses incidental to the installation, repair and connection of the building sewer” on the owner. The panel decided that although owners would still fix the sewer line that exists on their private properties, they could pay the city to take care of sewer repairs that extend from their property lines out to the streets. The new-and-improved cost to the property owner for the city repairing the sewer line was set at $1,000 if no sidewalk was included and $1,250 if sidewalk work was required.

During the May 16 meeting, the council completed its second reading of the ordinance amending the current code. However, it continues to leave the cost of sewer line repairs under the road to the property owners, according to City Attorney Randolph Frails.

“I don’t believe it does,” Frails stated May 16 when asked if the amendment takes the financial burden away from property owners. “The new ordinance requires that they pay up to the tap.”

Water Superintendent Jody Ellison pointed out to the Utilities Committee July 12 that most of Waynesboro’s taps are located under roads.

The new amendment states, “All costs and expenses incidental to the installation and connection of the building sewer shall be paid by the property owner. The property owner is responsible for all costs and expenses for all portions of the sewer line measured from the tap to the residence, building or dwelling. The owner shall indemnify the City from any loss or damages that may directly or indirectly occur as a result of the installation, repairs, excavation, replacement, connections, securing the pipe and tapping, as well as recovering the area that was excavated, on both the homeowner’s property and the City’s property. The City will inspect the completed work to ensure it is in compliance with established City and State codes and guidelines before and after the street repair. The City shall not have ownership for the building sewers and connections nor responsibility for maintenance of the building sewers and connections.”

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