Bazetta's demands for water increasing
The sanitary engineer said people have resisted paying for water.
BAZETTA -- The township is thirsting for its neighbors' water to serve a growing community.
Bazetta officials expect more than 1,000 new homes and condos to be built in the next five years, increasing the population to about 8,500 residents who will need water and sewer service.
Trustees Michael Piros, William Glancy and Jeffery Bates appealed to some 30 community leaders Thursday for creative partnering to make the growth happen, particularly with water. The township will approach Warren, Cortland and Trumbull County to set meetings on the issue; it's also talking with a private company, Aqua Water of Ohio.
"We need to be visionaries. Things don't happen if we don't make it happen," Piros said.
Glancy said the residential growth is expected on vacant land on McCleary Jacoby Road directly off state Route 46; and also on Bazetta, North Park and Johnson Plank roads.
"We believe we have the land. We believe the growth potential is there," said Piros.
Township officials were warned, however, that water would come with a price tag -- and that residents would face paying the bill if private developers or businesses do not.
Gary Newbrough, Trumbull County's sanitary engineer, noted that Bazetta is now in a county water district, and that people with bad well water can petition for a waterline extension and pay for it through an assessment. This can cost $10,000 per 100 feet of frontage.
"One of the problems in Bazetta is that you do not get enough support on a petition," Newbrough said. "I think they want water, but they don't want to pay for it."
He suggested trustees make a stronger effort to secure petitions for water and sewer.
Piros noted that a Vindicator story last week about the meeting, held at Enzo's Restaurant in Warren, resulted in a call from Julie Michael Smith of Gov. Bob Taft's office and a meeting next week with the Ohio Department of Development to discuss its role in partnerships with Bazetta.
The strategy Bazetta is advancing is:
*Persuading the cities or county to allow private businesses to access their water for a fee.
*The private business then sells the water to the township.
*The cities or county would pay no money for maintaining those lines, which would be the responsibility of the private business. Work could be done more quickly outside of government, because there will be no bidding process nor prevailing wage issues.
*The cities or county would increase their volume in sales.
Newbrough said Trumbull County continues to have concerns about private water companies funding such projects and owning the waterlines, and the impact of this on water pricing and the county's overall water service plan.
Tom Angelo, Warren's water pollution control director, said Bazetta needs to complete a comprehensive land use plan to identify areas that would be prime for multigovernment partnerships. He too said privatization "could result in loss of control of the price structure."
Mayor Michael O'Brien said Warren could market its water outside city boundaries if it's critical for economic development; the rate is 1.5 times higher than paid by city residents. "We have a product and we're willing to sell it rather than hold onto it," he said.
"The city has the capacity to provide the water, and the city has a tap that is conveniently located," he said. "We're not tied to any policies. Would I prefer annexation to Warren? Absolutely." That also has been city council's position.
Cortland Mayor Curt Moll noted his city's water comes from a system of wells. Cortland's infrastructure and capacity "might not support much beyond what we have now," he said.
Also attending were Cortland Service Director Donald Wittman and Councilman Michael Hillman; Alan Knapp, Trumbull County Planning Commission director; state Reps. Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles, D-65th, and Randy Law of Warren, R-64th; a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th; and representatives from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Regional Chamber, Howland and Vienna townships, Aqua Water of Ohio, developers and contractors.