SALEM, PERRY TOWNSHIP County officials hear views on annexation plan

A waterway in a city park is affected by runoff by faulty septic tanks, officials say.
SALEM -- Those for and against a proposal to annex land in Perry Township into Salem agree that the nearly 184 acres in question face a sewage pollution problem.
But opinions on what to do about it vary. Columbiana County commissioners heard from both sides during a hearing Wednesday.
Backed by Salem: The city is supporting the annexation of the land, which lies on Salem's northeast side near Waterworth Memorial Park.
City officials say that annexing the property and requiring the nearly 100 homes in the annexed area to tie onto a municipal sewer that would be installed there would fix much of the pollution.
Runoff from faulty septic systems is being blamed for the problem.
One area believed to be affected by the pollution is a tiny stream that runs through the park and that children often play in during warm weather.
To provide sewer to the area, if it were annexed, would cost about $1.1 million.
The city says it's willing to pay for about 60 percent of the project. The remainder would be paid by homeowners receiving the sewer.
They would be assessed $5,000 for its cost, which they could pay over 20 years at 6-percent interest.
Those supporting annexation said it's a good deal that would boost property values, eliminate faulty septic systems and help alleviate the pollution.
Opposed: But some annexation opponents accused the city of long ignoring the pollution, only to use it now as a basis to bring more Perry Township land into the city.
Others noted that several blocks in the problem area are excluded from the annexation proposal.
City officials have explained that the excluded area represents strong opposition to the annexation.
Including the area would have made it difficult to get signatures of enough property owners on the annexation petition, which requires a majority.
Don Weingart, city utilities superintendent, acknowledged that excluding the area would also leave behind some faulty septics that would pollute. But Weingart added that the annexation would still curb much of the problem.
Commissioners Dave Cranmer and Sean Logan suggested that if the city wants to solve the pollution problem it should allow a variance to a 1998 ordinance that requires annexation before municipal sewer service can be provided.
That way, people could tie onto the city sewer system without first having to become Salem residents.

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