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KENTLAND — Without much discussion, the Newton County Commissioners approved a motion to ask the County Council for $9 million in landfill tipping fees to expand water and sewer utilities up to Roselawn. The action took place at the Aug. 3, 2020 commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioner Tim Drenth said that there is some interest again by some elected officials to run water and sewer to Roselawn. Drenth, however, did not respond to an email asking what elected officials have shown interest.

Drenth added that the request will come from the commissioners but if approved the planning with go through the Newton County Regional Water and Sewer District.

This request comes five months after Drenth came before the County Council, along with Wessler Engineering to present the estimated costs of the water and sewer project, which at that time was $8.4 million.

The estimates included running a sewer line from the district’s new plant up to the area of Lincoln Elementary and the spot for a proposed 90-unit residential development. The sewer portion of the costs was estimated at $5.5 million, while the drinking water supply, treatment, and distribution project had an estimate of $2.95 million.

Back in February, Drenth said to the council “My only purpose of doing this project would be to serve those potential 90 lots.”

The councilmembers had various views of the project back in February.

“I think it is a good project and I believe there is a need for it, but I would be reluctant to fund the whole thing,” said Council President Scott Carlson. “I think the future users should have some skin in the game. My vision would be a combination of grant and loan.”

Carlson even asked Drenth to go back to the Newton County Regional Water and Sewer District and talk about different funding options.

“I was surprised with how many people were favorable of it,” Councilmember David Atkinson said of Lincoln Township residents back in February. “I think the tide is turning in Lincoln Township and there is a sentiment to incorporate there.”

Abbey Rossiter of Roselawn said this wasn’t a project she was excited about.

“I feel we are pushing this just for one development and I have a lot of concerns,” said Rossiter. “I want to make sure the residents are protected and not forced to hook up to these utilities if they don’t want to.”

At a previous meeting Drenth and County Council Vice President Michael Mark, who were both on the water and sewer district at that time, said that residents would be grandfathered in and they would not be forcing anyone to hook up to the utilities. However, a state statute regarding water and sewer districts show several instances where residents may be required to tie into those utilities at some point.

Councilmember Pat Mulligan added that there is no doubt that future growth along SR 10 is possible and something he would support but he thinks it should be up to the people who live there to make that decision if they want it. “Let them decide,” said Mulligan.

“Who would head that up, there is no leadership up there,” answered Drenth.

Mulligan responded by saying this would open “Pandora’s Box” for all the incorporated towns to start looking at expanding infrastructure past their boundaries and asking for the county to pay for it.

When asked why the developer needs this infrastructure when other subdivisions are going up without it, Drenth said it is because of the size of the lots.

“These would be smaller lots with more dense housing, like townhomes and duplexes, that could not be built without water and sewer there,” said Drenth.