Business & Finance

Somers Objects to Carmel's Sewer District Plans

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Credits: Metro Creative Connection
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SOMERS, N.Y.--Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey turned thumbs down last week on any plans Carmel might have to flush its waste over the county line and into the Heritage Hills sewage treatment facility.

Reacting to published reports, Morrissey told his Carmel counterpart, Kenneth Schmitt, that Somers has “no interest in seeing the HH sewer capacity used by [out-of-town] developments.”

In a letter dated Aug. 16, Morrissey told Schmitt, “The members of the Town Board have...expressed to me, and I quite readily agree with them, that the Town Board would not be in favor of extending the HH Sewer District.”

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Somers’ opposition would appear to be a dagger to the heart of plans to create a new sewer district in Mahopac. But Schmitt said he will continue to try to hammer out an accord with Somers. 

“I don’t believe it’s dead in the water,” he said of a potential deal.

The envisioned sewer district would serve businesses and housing developments along Route 6 from the Putnam County line to Buckshollow Road in Mahopac.

Developers in Carmel reportedly had reached reserve-capacity agreements with the privately owned Heritage Hills Sewer Works Corp., which operates the wastewater treatment plant. The network of pipes that make up the Heritage Hills sewer district, however, is town-controlled. It can be extended only by a vote of the Town Board. 

While anyone could theoretically contract with the treatment plant, only the town can deliver the output to that facility. For example, Morrissey said, “Let’s say you lived in Pawling and wanted to get into that [Heritage Hills] sewer district. You can come down and make a deal with them, but we’re still not going to extend the sewer district to Pawling.”

Morrissey said of his letter, “I just wanted to point out to the supervisor up there that if he’s going to talk to his Town Board and task force, this is what our town position is.”

Asked whether Carmel might contract to tie into a Route 6 sewer main, part of the Crossroads at Baldwin Place line flowing to the Westchester sewage treatment facility in Peekskill, Morrissey was doubtful. 

“There’s a line up there,” he said of the Baldwin Place county boundary. “One [side] is Westchester County and one is Putnam. 

“He [Schmitt] could petition to come to Peekskill, but the county would probably be in the same position as I am: We don’t want out-of-town waste taking capacity in a sewer plant that’s in our municipality.” 

Putnam’s deputy county executive, Bruce Walker, told the Carmel Town Board earlier this month that the county has committed $75,000 for an engineering study and legal fees related to the formation of a new sewer district.

That area of Route 6 currently has only one treatment plant but it is owned by New York City and is at capacity. Carmel is prohibited from building more treatment plants because it is in New York City’s watershed. As a result, Putnam County officials developed the idea to use the treatment plant in Heritage Hills in Somers.

But, Morrissey noted, the region is still largely dominated by septic systems for waste removal. 

“Sewage treatment plants in northern Westchester are very valuable assets,” he said. “Myself and the Town Board feel that if it’s going to be used for getting people off septics, we want those to be Somers residents.”

Schmitt said he understands Somers’ position. 

“They are concerned about future homes whose septic system might fail and then they need extra capacity and have to switch them over,” he said. “I get that. I do understand where he’s coming from.” 

Schmitt said that he and Morrissey “had a really good discussion” about the situation. 

“My intention is to work with Somers and see if there is an arrangement we can come up with,” he said. “I just learned that they created this Heritage Hills Sewer District and I have requested copies of those documents. But I am not throwing in the towel on this. If other people want to, they can. But I am not.”

Calls  to Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker seeking comment were not returned by press time.

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