Sewer district boundaries could officially change in the city of Avon sometime next month.

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency board approved a resolution in January allowing for a boundary line shift between the Avon Lake district and the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant district. Approximately 2,400 acres in the northeast quadrant of what was part of the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant district will soon officially be a part of the Avon Lake district.

Avon Planning Commission reviewed the boundary changes during the March 20 meeting and recommended approval of the revisions to Avon City Council.

The city of Avon held a first reading Monday night for two ordinances during the regular meeting of Avon City Council – one to officially approve of NOACA’s modification to the Clean Water 2000 Plan as it affects the city’s sanitary sewer master plan and another to amend the master sewer plan map revision of the Nagel Road District.

Public hearings are scheduled to be held for the ordinances on May 13.

The city of Avon initially agreed to enter into a study conducted through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency back in April 2011. The study examined the sanitary sewer Facility Planning Area (FPA) boundary lines in Lorain County. Avon Lake, Lorain, North Ridgeville and Sheffield Village participated in the study as well.

Since NOACA is responsible for evaluating the consistency of the FPAs, the agency initiated the study conducted by Hatch Mott MacDonald after the city of Avon Lake requested an adjustment to the French Creek FPA and the Avon Lake FPA boundaries to make the Clean Water 2000 Plan consistent. The Clean Water 2000 Plan, established in 1979 as the Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development organization’s 208 Water Quality Management Plan, created boundaries (FPAs) dividing sewer service throughout Ohio.

Around the same time Avon Lake requested the boundary change, the city of North Ridgeville, which owns the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, asked that NOACA determine that the installation of sanitary sewers in the city of Avon along Jaycox Road, running to the Avon Lake Municipal Utilities was inconsistent with the Clean Water 2000 Plan and it should run to the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant instead.

According to an Aug. 1, 2012, memorandum from Water Quality Planner Dave Ritter to the NOACA Water Quality Advisory Committee, the study ultimately showed, “From an environmental and a technical feasibility standpoint both French Creek and Avon Lake have the ability to service the area. Sewage can be directed to either wastewater treatment plant.”

However, the memorandum states that the cost estimates from Hatch Mott MacDonald found that changing the flow of the sewers in that quadrant to the Avon Lake Plant “is a more affordable solution.”

“The concern going into the study was that by removing the Avon northeast quadrant from the French Creek FPA, rates for French Creek customers would rise to the point of exceeding affordability limits,” the memorandum states. “The Hatch Mott MacDonald study projects that the rates for French Creek customers would be similar if the northeast quadrant remains in the French Creek FPA or is transferred to the Avon Lake FPA.”

Specifically, the Hatch Mott MacDonald study states,”This study looked at potential changes to the rates based on the anticipated capital improvements and the loss of connection fees. The impact to rates required similar increases to compensate for project financing, but the loss of connection fees requires a small increase in rates … It appears the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant would continue to operate at roughly the same base financial level if the area transfer were to occur.”

“Under the old plan, since the Northwest Interceptor was never installed during the construction of the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant or afterward, the only way to service that area was to pump it up hill about 3 miles,” Avon City Engineer Rob Knopf wrote in a recent email. “Now a new development just needs to install the new sewer under the highway to connect with the existing sanitary that flows to Avon Lake.”

Knopf said the modification also provides some housekeeping with the Jaycox trunk line that runs to Avon Lake, since the Ohio Evironmental Protection Agency approved the permit for the sewer line installation even though it technically didn’t coincide with the sewer district boundaries.

Asked if the modification would require new sewer lines to be insalled, Knopf said the city doesn’t plan on installing new sewers in the area in the near future.

Essentially, Knopf said the 208 modification “opens up the Nagel Road area between Detroit and Avon Road to new development.”

During the March 20 Planning Commission meeting, Avon Utilities Superintendent Dave Conrad said that once council adopts the new boundary lines as part of the 208 plan, the second ordinance allows the city to revise the sewer master plan to create the Nagel Road Sanitary Sewer District, allowing the sewers to flow north.

Avon Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza said during the March 20 meeting that the city has been “fighting with NOACA and North Ridgeville for over a year and a half now” over the boundary issue.

“Now it’s legal … It’s proper,” Piazza said.

“Nothing made engineering sense over the past couple of years,” Avon Mayor Jim Smith said of the sewer district boundaries during the March 20 meeting, “But they said North Ridgeville wanted it and we said, ‘How can you service it?'”

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