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Catlett-Calverton sewer sign-ups fall short

Tuesday, Sep. 1 | By James Ivancic
Mark Pickett talks to Gary Schwartz, project manager for Fauquier County, and Sue Rowland of Eldon James & Associates, about connecting to the proposed Catlett-Calverton sewage system. Fauquier Times/Randy Litzinger
The number willing to connect to the planned Catlett-Calverton Decentralized Wastewater System stands at 148.25 equivalent dwelling units, below the 200 threshold the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors wanted to see by the end of an incentive period at 8 p.m. Monday.

Eldon James of Eldon James Associates, the Richmond project consultant for the county, said he will be making a report to the supervisors at their regular monthly meeting Sept. 10. He said he talked to County Administrator Paul McCulla Tuesday morning about the incentive period results and that McCulla would be sending a memo to the board.

Cedar Run District Supervisor Lee Sherbeyn, who represents Catlett and Calverton, said Tuesday morning that he hadn't talked to the other board members.

“I don't know what their thoughts are and whether there's a change of heart” about the 200 minimum sign-ups not being met.

“It's sad. Its' been worked on by so many people,” he said.

He referred to a 1978 study done by the county health department that said that 76.6 percent of the septic systems in Catlett and Calverton had failed.

“Over the last 40 years I would think the number that failed would be over 80 percent and no repair permits have been pulled. I would say that 80 percent do not have a working system or not operating properly,” Sherbeyn said.

Sherbeyn said fellow board members didn't want to appear to be forcing anyone to accept the sewer system but the “health, safety and welfare” of the people is an issue.

“They are living in a health hazard,” he said.

During the incentive period, participants could get a reduction in the tap fee to connect to the system _ $18,000 as opposed to $26,000 as of Sept. 1 _ and put off payment by allowing a lien to be placed on the property with payment for the tap and connection fees due when the property is sold or transferred. The connection fee estimated at no more than $2,500 covers the cost of running a connection between the house and system. Businesses could spread payments over five years.

No liens or payment plans are available during post-incentive period and all tap and connection fees must be paid in full prior to hook-up. Churches and charitable organizations can finance the fees over 20 years.

The county has received a $7.1 million loan from the commonwealth to build a system designed, constructed and maintained by Northwest Cascade, a Washington state company.

The Board of Supervisors wanted to see if there was a base of committed users before going forward with the project so they set up the incentive period that ended Monday.

James, the consultant, was present Monday with staff members and Gary Schwartz, Fauquier County construction manager, at the Cedar Run Building in Catlett from 4 to 8 p.m. to answer questions and accept signed user agreements and easements allowing access to the property.

The full board of trustees – at least six in number – of Oak Shade Baptist Church showed up to sign paperwork to get sewage treatment service for their church and community center, representing two EDUs.

“We kind of pondered over it. We wanted to get more information about whether it was happening or not. We wanted to be sure to sign up now” before the incentive period ends, said Boyd Sprow, co-chairman of the church board.

He said the church's septic system is functioning now.

The church, located at 3287 Old Catlett Road, is more than 100 years old.

Mark Pickett of Warrenton, representing a corporation with a 33-acre equestrian center in Calverton, came to get service for it.

“I know that anytime sewer is available I feel it's best to connect,” he said. “The equestrian center is in need of repair. We're trying to fix it up.”

Pickett said that he is a water and sewer excavator but that he will let the contractor the county hires do the work.

“I think it's a pretty good deal, a pretty good incentive,” he said of the lower fees and payment terms that were available.

Steve Boger of 4112 Catlett Road signed up as well on the last day of the incentive period. While the septic system for the property he bought two years ago is working he doesn't have any inspection records for it.

“If it's condemned, what do you do? This will save a lot of headaches in the end and save some money” by acting now, he said.

His house sits on a 5-acre lot. The septic drain field is in the front yard and he's concerned it will be impacted if Va. 28 is widened.

If the project goes forward, design work and obtaining permits will take three to six months, followed by nine to 12 months of construction, James said.

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