Annexation tied to sewer tap for ODOT

The city of Marietta will annex a 0.8-acre portion of the property occupied by the Ohio Department of Transportation District 10 offices along Muskingum Drive after the agency requested a sewer tap for a building addition to be constructed on the site.

Legislation approving the sewer tap and annexation will be re-introduced during the March 20 city council meeting after Mayor Joe Matthews vetoed the original measure that was passed by council last month.

Matthews said that ordinance would not have been legal because ODOT was listed as the property owner, but the state agency only leases that property from Washington County. He said the county commissioners would have to approve the tap request.

City law director Paul Bertram III recommended the legislation be re-written to reflect the county’s ownership of the property.

“I spoke with Ron Feathers, president of the county commission and with (ODOT District 10 Deputy Director) Steve Williams, and the commissioners will submit a resolution that they agree on the annexation of this property as the county is the deed holder for the property,” Bertram said.

According to municipal code, when the owner of property outside the city limits requests a tap into the city water or sewer system, the owner must also agree to allow that property to be annexed if it is contiguous to the city limits.

City Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, and chair of council’s finance committee, said he would have preferred that the city annex all of the property on which the ODOT offices are located.

But Williams said if that occurred the section of Muskingum Drive (Ohio 60) that lies between the Davis Avenue and Colegate Drive intersections would become the city’s responsibility, including the pavement and upkeep of traffic signals at both intersections.

“I didn’t think you would want that section of Muskingum Drive,” Williams told Vukovic. “It would be unfair to the city to have to maintain the two lights and paving of that area.”

He said ODOT currently takes care of maintenance for the roadway and both intersections from Davis Avenue to the city limits.

“I’d much rather that ODOT keep paying for the asphalt paving and maintenance of those intersections,” Vukovic said.

In other business Wednesday, Jarrod Schultheisz, project manager for the city engineering department, told members of the water, sewer, and sanitation committee that the department would be seeking requests for qualifications for a feasibility study to connect septic systems within the city into the municipal sewer system.

“The study would concentrate on areas where clusters of septic systems currently exist along Bellevue Street, Hillcrest Drive and Cisler Drive,” he said.

Schultheisz said there have been no previous feasibility studies conducted to determine how those areas could be connected into the city sanitary sewer system.

“The Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies are coming down hard on cities to get rid of septic systems and package sewer treatment plants,” Bertram explained. “Grant funding is being made available for sewer projects, but this could also create some burden on residents as well.”

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward and chairman of the water, sewer and sanitation committee, said the feasibility study should be done.

“This will determine the cost and what needs to be done,” he said.

Bertram said there are probably more than 100 septic systems that currently exist within the city limits.

Also on Wednesday, city engineer Joe Tucker said a project to replace 400 signs along federal-funded routes in the city would begin in mid-May and be completed by the end of June this year.

“The signage project will cost a total $91,690, but 80 percent will be paid with WWW (Wood, Wirt and Washington Counties Interstate Commission) funding,” he said. “The city will pay $18,338.”

Tucker noted the project is an unfunded federal mandate that requires traffic signs to be of a certain reflectivity and that words printed on any of the placards be written with both upper and lower-case letters.

The city has a total of 5,000 signs that will eventually have to be upgraded to the new federal standards.