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Paonia approves water project

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At the May 24 town board meeting, Paonia trustees passed a resolution to accept a petition for annexation of two parcels on Samuel Wade Road.

The petition was submitted by Andrew Thliveris. The two parcels, located across from the Paonia Library, total about 2.54 acres and are currently zoned agricultural.

The family plans to market local organic fruit and other products direct to the public through its business, Berg Harvest. "This is really the beginning of a dream," said Betty Mueller, the mother of Andrew Thliveris, who represented the applicant. The family farmstead home on Mathews Lane was annexed into the town several years ago.

Town Manager Jane Berry said the town has been working with the Thliveris family for about a year, and that their intent is to keep the land in agriculture. They also own adjacent agricultural land, which borders town property where the former wastewater treatment plant was located.

This is the first phase of a multi-faceted project, said Berry. The family's goals are in direct keeping with the goals and priorities of the town's Comprehensive Plan, which calls for preserving the rural and agricultural character of the community.

In getting water to the property, time is of the essence, said Berry. They hope to have their stand open by the Fourth of July weekend, the annual Cherry Days festival, and the cherry harvest. A moratorium on out-of-town water taps has been in place since 2007, which means the only way to receive the taps is through annexation or application through a water company. Because they need the tap prior to completing the annexation process, the two parties will sign a pre-annexation agreement, which is expected to come before trustees at the June 14 meeting.

Because the land is under three acres, there is no legal requirement for the plan to go before the town Planning Commission, said Berry. However, as a courtesy to the commission, which last went through an annexation process in 2012, they will review the proposal and make recommendations.

Mayor Pro Tem David Bradford thanked the Thliveris family for their willingness to annex their property. All too often, said Bradford, people want to hook onto town water but not to annex. "I am very pleased they are willing to become part of the town."

A public hearing on the annexation application is planned for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at the regularly scheduled board meeting.

Trustees also unanimously approved the installation of a 6-inch water main between Niagara Avenue and Samuel Wade Bridge. The line will connect to sections of the existing 6-inch main.

Berry and public works director Travis Loberg presented a rough diagram of the proposal area showing an existing 6-inch line running north down the center of Niagara, then zigzagging along Fourth Street, behind the Paonia Library, along the North Fork River, then back across Third Street on the east side of Samuel Wade Bridge. It then crosses the northeastern edge of the former water treatment plant property and Samuel Wade Bridge, then heads back under Third Street just west of the bridge. The line feeds three cabins on Price Road and Highway 133 Liquor.

Cost is not to exceed $25,000, of which roughly $9,700 will come from tap fees paid by the applicant. An additional $10,000 from a $65,000 sewer plant decommissioning fund will be used to offset any costs associated with the former treatment plant property.

The town will act as general contractor and hire local businesses to do additional work.

The project, said Berry, is an investment in the town's infrastructure. In addition to allowing for the Thliveris tap, the improvement will create a loop in the system, improve water pressure and capacity, eliminate dead-end lines that can result in stagnant water, and help with flow capacity for fire suppression and allow for the installation of another fire hydrant west of the bridge.

"It isn't just for this project and community development potential," said Berry. "It's important for future development."

The plan was one of three options considered by the board. The first option involved installation of a 1-inch line that would service the property through a bore under Third Street. The estimated cost is $3,000. When asked by trustee Bill Brunner why that wasn't the best option, considering the town's finances, Berry replied that it would do nothing for the integrity of the system, an asset owned by the town that is in need of upgrades. Had past boards not gone with the cheapest options, said Berry, the proposed line would already exist.

The second option would bring water to the property via a 4-inch line pulled through a bore under Third Street, at an estimated cost of $21,000-$25,000. The bigger the bore, the higher the cost, said Berry. But again, she noted, with this option, there are no additional benefits outside of providing a tap.

The option approved by trustees, added Berry, also improves the town's chances of selling the property where the plant was located. "Obviously, as our own customer, we'd like to add value to it," said Berry.

The wastewater infrastructure needed for a sewer tap is already in place.

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