AVON - City officials plan to spend nearly $13 million over the next three years to make improvements along nearly 2 miles of Detroit Road and adjacent roads.

They hope the improvements will make the stretch between Clifton Way/Garden Drive and Nagel Road safer and allow residents to make easier left-hand turns into their driveways.

Work along another part of Detroit will add 6,100 feet of sewer pipe to replace 90 aging septic tanks, many of which are releasing untreated sewage that is fouling nearby waterways. The current sewer system is providing inconsistent, or even nonexistent, drainage.

City officials supported going ahead with three major projects along Detroit during the Sept. 3 council meeting

Here’s what the city has planned:

• Adding sanitary sewers and replacing storm sewers along Joseph Street, Elizabeth Avenue and Puth Drive off Detroit. The project, expected to cost nearly $4 million, will begin in 2021 and affect 107 properties. It will eliminate about 90 septic systems and require homes to tie into the sanitary sewer line. It is not known how many septic systems are failing, but their age is the primary cause of the problem, said city engineer Ryan Cummins. Homes date to the 1950s. The city capped the sewer assessment to each property affected at $12,000, but residents are concerned those costs could go higher.

• Paving and widening Detroit between Clifton Way/Garden Drive and Nagel Road. The $1.6 million project, expected to start next year, includes widening Detroit from two lanes to three and adding a center turning lane in its second phase, a $1.9 million project. The sidewalk along Detroit also would be relocated or replaced between Shakespeare Lane and Nagel Road, and traffic signals would be upgraded at Detroit and Jaycox roads.

• Installing a $5 million traffic roundabout at Detroit and Nagel roads in 2022.

The cost for residents receiving the sewer upgrades was discussed Thursday during a public hearing at Avon High School where many residents voiced concerns about the costs, which include a surcharge and tap-in fee.

The new sewer main will be installed by the city, and the homeowners will hire contractors to install the new connection from the sewer main to their new home. The process will be overseen by the Avon Utility Department and Lorain County Public Health.

"It's a lot of moving parts, but it's long overdue," said Councilwoman Tammy Holtzmeier. "That road has always been busy and the traffic hasn't gotten any better. Once we get the construction done, it will be worth it."

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency audited the area and determined in 2013 that a number of septic systems were failing and that lot sizes and ground conditions made connection to a sanitary sewer system necessary.

City Council voted unanimously to apply for an Ohio Public Works Commission grant to help pay for the estimated $1.6 million repavement project. The Ohio Department of Transportation, which will pay for 80% of the project, deemed the road in need of repair. Avon would pay the other 20% of the project’s cost, which is $325,000, and pay $35,000 for engineering costs.

The city should know whether it will receive the grant by the end of this year. If it does, construction would begin in early 2020, with a completion date next summer, Cummins said.

The city also is applying for $500,000 in Ohio Public Works Commission grants and a no-interest loan to lower the cost of the road widening project for the turn lane.

"The improvements are definitely needed," Cummins said. "It would make the road safer and help alleviate some of the traffic."

The city will not need to acquire any private property for the road-widening project, which will need 8 feet on the south side of Detroit and 4 feet on the north side. The easements mostly would be for utilities and could require relocating some utility poles and fire hydrants, Mayor Bryan Jensen said.

"That road carries a lot of traffic," said Councilman Dennis McBride, whose ward includes the portion of Detroit affected by the project. "Any widening will help. We need those turn lanes in there. It was something that the developer of Palmer Village should have been forced to do during the construction of his project."

In other business, council moved forward with its considerations to hire O.R. Colan Associates to acquire easements for the sanitary sewers between Elizabeth Avenue and Joseph Street and assess the properties for the work. The company and the city need to have the amount of properties assessed along Detroit for the sewer project.

Each single-family homeowner with a septic system faces about a $12,000 assessment to tie into the sewer. The city is considering giving property owners the option of paying $12,000 within 30 days after the sewer is installed in 2020, or over 20 years with the interest amount to be determined.

Any vacant lot that the sewer passes and is wide enough to be developed would be charged based on how many homes could be developed there.

Avon law director John Gasior said most homes would see a savings by being assessed that way, but a handful of narrow lots would pay more. Those homeowners could go to an assessment easement board to argue that their costs should be reduced.

The road-widening project will need 12 feet for the center turning lane. The city will also need to take 8 feet in front of the home of Tracy Peairs and his wife, Mary, for the sewer project.

"My concern is that with the road widening and the sewer project, it will bring the road right up to my sidewalk," Tracy Peairs said.

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com, or 440-871-5797.

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