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MOROCCO — Members of the Newton County Regional Water and Sewer District (NCRWSD) spoke to the Newton County Council Jan. 10 to introduce its plans to extend water and sewer utilities north up to SR 10 and measure the council’s interest in funding the project.

Michael Mark, who serves on the county council and used to serve on the NCRWSD, informed his fellow council members that the preliminary plan is to take a sewer line from the new wastewater plant on SR 14 up 400 E to SR 10.

“When it gets to SR 10 it can go west to SR 55 and or east to County Line Road,” said Mark. “Nothing has been decided and all is up for discussion. I just wanted this to be transparent.”

Mark added that this project is all about getting utilities up to SR 10 for potential business and residential growth.

“For me, it’s economic development,” said Mark.

Newton County Commissioner Tim Drenth, who also serves on the NCRWSD board, said the plans for water include drilling for two wells up in Lincoln Township and setting up a water treatment plant.

If this multi-million dollar plan is funded by the county council, both Mark and Drenth say that new constructed residences and businesses along SR 10 and 400 E would be required to tap into the utilities, while already existing structures will be grandfathered in and will not have to hook up if they don’t want to.

“We are not going to force anyone to hook up, but we all know the need is there,” said Drenth. “If we run past someone’s homes with the lines and they want to hook up, we will waive the fees, but it is all up to them.”

Mark added “I have a house right there on SR 10, and I don’t ever expect to hook up to it. This is all about potential development.”

Councilmember Pat Mulligan wasn’t against bring the utilities up to SR 10 but wanted to know whose responsibility it would be if the new wastewater plant had to be expanded.

“I think there will be some mad taxpayers if we provide sewer to 10 and then we have to expand our new plant,” said Mulligan. “What if the cheese plant does come, and what if new businesses come in the TIF area and expansion is needed. Will the county have to pay for that?”

The majority of the council approved the NCRWSD moving forward to get hard numbers on what the actual cost would be for the project before making a final decision.

“I’m for it, but we need to get the fear away from the homeowners,” said councilmember David Atkinson.

Councilmember Abbey Rossiter said she wanted to see the hard numbers and guarantees for the residents’ protection that are already here before making any decision.

“I want to see these guarantees in writing,” added Rossiter.

In other news from the Jan. 10 county council meeting, Newton County Economic Development Director Tim Myers gave an update on the possibility of the county buying Hazelden Country Club and Golf Course in Brook.

“I met with the Armstrongs (the owners of Hazelden) before the holidays,” said Myers. “We are crunching some numbers now and I asked them to be prepared to give a hard number for the price of the golf course.”

Myers also told the council that he has received several calls from people who concerned about the project.