Pelzer residents say sewer upgrade causing problems

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By David Meade

Pelzer Town Council had a short business meeting with only two items on the agenda, however the meeting turned into a complaint session on the Phase 2 sewer project cuttently underway throughout the town.

Council approved two election related ordinances. Mayor Pro Tem Donna Ide conducted the meeting in the absence of Mayor Steve McGregor.

Council approved first reading on an amended ordinance 2015-004 regarding the transferring of election to Anderson County Voter Registration and Election Commission.

Administrator Skip Watkins said the amended ordinance covers election requirements for the municipality and makes Pelzer’s election ordinance uniform with other municipalities in the county.

Council unanimously approved first reading of Ordinance 2015-005 changed the town’s election date to the first Tursday in November and filing information from petition to intent of candidacy.

During citizen input, there were some questions about the town’s upcoming election.

Watkins said Anderson County will not be assisting with the upcoming election. It will be conducted by the Pelzer Municipal Election Commission and voting will be by paper ballot. Watkins said a poll manager and two poll workers will oversee the election and hand count the ballots. Absentee ballots will be handled by the county, he said.

A Meet the Candidate forum will be held this Thursday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Pelzer Community Building.

The main topic of discussion was problems associated with construction work on the town’s sewer infrastructure.

Property owner David Roberts had a number of questions related to how his property would hook into the upgraded sewer lines.

According to Roberts, the new lines are stopping approximately 30 ft. from his property and if or when the old line becomes inoperable, he will not have a way to hook into the new lines.

Roberts said he was told he will have to run a sewer connector line across the street, through a neighbors property to a new sewer line being installed one block over.

“If my line goes bad, eventually I will have to hook to a new line,” he said.

Roberts questioned why the new lines were being placed along the road and why alleys where the old sewer lines are located were not being used. “They moved those new lines so far away I can’t hook on,” he said. “They need to come on to my house where I can hook on to it.”

Roberts said he has asked the town for sewer maps and has made a Freedom of Information request, but has not been provided what he asked for. He said he was told, “there were no maps.”

Watkins fielded the questions and eventually asked Roberts if he currently had working sewer, to which Roberts replied yes.

Roberts again said that when the old line he is currently connected to fails, he will have to run a line to the town’s lines. Watkins said, “We will make a place for you to hook in.”

Watkins explained that when the project was initiated it was based on the recommendation of the sewer/water department head at the time, who no longer works with the town.

Mayor Pro Tem Ide said the project was already mapped out and she didn’t think it could be extended 20 or 30 more feet.

Roberts also said the system map was changed.

There was some discussion about who was responsible for the project.

Several residents stated that their yards, streets, fences and walkways were being torn up and not repaired after the sewer work is done near their homes.

According to the residents, the contractors are tearing up streets to lay new lines and not fixing them, and with recent rains, there are mud holes everywhere.

Councilmembers said they knew little about the project or who was over it.

Watkins said he and the mayor work with the engineer on the project, however the engineer, Bill Dunn and Associates and USDA Rural Development work with the contractor to get the project completed.

One resident complained about a problem which has been ongoing for about three weeks in which sewer is overflowing from a manhole and into his yard.

There were concerns about DHEC and fines that could result from the problem.

Watkins said he will contact the engineer about the problems that were brought up.