top of page

Kent Debates Sewer District Allocations & Fees

By Rob Sample

How can the Town of Kent more accurately and fairly allocate charges for the town’s sewer district? The Kent Town Board tackled this thorny subject at its May 21 meeting.

The recent round of discussions began when A-Class Builders of Carmel sought to build a row of storefronts and apartments on Route 52, and the Kent sewer district set a usage allotment of 5,400 gallons per day for the project. That developer has since backed out, and listed the property for sale.

The sewer district currently has 10,000 gallons of unused daily effluent capacity and encompasses a small portion of Kent – chiefly commercial properties along Route 52.

“Right now, the system is way underutilized, in large part because Kent Manor has not built any condominiums as originally planned,” said Councilman Shaun Boyd, who serves as the town board’s liaison to the sewer district.

Boyd also pointed out that owners of 40 undeveloped properties within the sewer district’s boundaries have never paid toward the system’s operation – even though the availability of sewer hookups has caused these properties to increase in value.

“If we go to them and say: Do you want to have the potential to go onto the sewer district? We’ll allow you, but you’re going to start paying for the privilege. Or they can opt out. We can figure out a way to make everybody who is getting value out of the sewer district pay their fair share and lower everybody’s bills,” said Boyd, who is also a member of the sewer district committee.

Katherine Doherty, a former town supervisor who is also on the committee, noted that owners of vacant properties were originally required to pay a $50 per gallon, per day assessment. The sewer district’s original charter also called for the town to issue water meters.

“They didn’t – we bought our own water meters,” said Doherty, who owns two businesses in the district. The charter also spelled out fines for usage that far exceeded a property’s allotment.

“This rule, right from the very beginning, was poorly written and poorly implemented throughout the last 12 years,” said Boyd.

“I didn’t write it. It was (written by) an engineer,” said Doherty. “It’s also been changed over the last couple years, and now it really doesn’t make sense.”

One roadblock to a resolution is that the town lacks 10 years’ worth of records from the wastewater treatment plant, including which properties have not used their entire sewer allotment. As a remedy, Doherty asked the town board to investigate obtaining state Environmental Protection Agency grant money to purchase smart meters, which would greatly simplify the collection of usage data for water and sewer systems.

Boyd suggested working with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to learn how other municipalities have handled the issue of allotments for vacant properties. He also said the town could purchase unused allotments from such property owners, which could be reallocated to those who intend to develop their properties.

“There may also be buildings that aren’t having the same use as they were when they were initially engineered,” said Boyd. “We can change the allocations and make it so that we can add more businesses to the district.”

Resident Susan Kotzur asked whether the parcel owners without meters will receive any sort of notice of any changes. “Will literature go out to those 40 people to bring them up to the spot that you’re at now?” she asked.

“I think we have to be brought up to speed first,” noted Town Supervisor Jaime McGlasson, who said the town’s engineering consultants would be brought in to brief the board and the public.


bottom of page