Trustees seek comment on using park land for sewage treatment plant

LISBON – Hanover Township trustees want to hear what their constituents say before handing over a small section of park property in Kensington for construction of a proposed sewage treatment plant.

The trustees have scheduled a special meeting for 8 p.m. Wednesday to solicit public input before deciding whether to transfer the 1.5-acre parcel to Columbiana County commissioners as part of the state-mandated Kensington sewer project.

The parcel is at the northernmost part of the township park along U.S. Route 30 and catercorner from the Kensington Dairy Bar. The only park facilities are a basketball court and picnic pavilion located a considerable distance away at the other end, with open field separating the areas.

Trustee John Zehentbauer said they just received the paperwork requesting the property transfer the same day as their April 1 meeting and felt uncomfortable taking immediate action without further study and soliciting public input.

“We decided to hold a special meeting and at least let the people know” what was being proposed since it involved township property, he said. “I don’t have a big issue with it. I just need to look at it.”

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has ordered that the Kensington area be provided sanitary sewer service to address the problem of widespread malfunctioning septic systems in the area. The county is responsible because Kensington is an unincorporated area.

The plant will serve 77 households and three businesses. Although there will be no tap fee, customers will be charged a user fee to cover operational expenses and help pay for the estimated $2.5 million project.

County Engineer Bert Dawson said they chose the park property for the sewage plant because of its proximity to Kensington and Sandy Creek, where treated effluent will be discharged. The creek borders the park property.

“It’s about the most obvious and economical place to put the plant,” he said, adding the plant will not interfere with the park, nor are there any deed restrictions that would prevent the property from being transferred.

Under the plan, sewer lines will be extended along Route 30 through the intersection in Kensington and along state Routes 9 and 644. “It’s basically where the houses are. It’s not very far (beyond the intersection), about a quarter mile in either direction,” Dawson said.

Zehentbauer said it was his understanding the county had been considering building the plant behind the township administration building or behind the Forest Lanes bowling alley, both of which are located about a half mile or more away from the park property. Dawson indicated the farther away the plant is from Kensington, the greater the operating expense, which translates into higher user fees.

The county is prepared to begin construction this year, provided there are no further delays. “We’re ready to go. That’s why we’re trying to get the property in our name,” Dawson said.

The small plant will be built in such a way that it can be expanded to take in sewage from the nearby village of Hanoverton, which is also under an OEPA mandate to provide sanitary service to its community. Hanoverton’s efforts are currently at a standstill due to lack of funding.