Officials of Crag Burn Country Club, Crag Burn Village and the nearby estate of Jeremy Jacobs appeared before the Elma Town Board Wednesday to ask that the town assume the operation of the club's sewer district.
According to Crag Burn attorney Gregory P. Photiadis, the district was formed by club members in the early 1970s, when the golf course and neighboring homes were first developed. It had been operated privately since then under the corporate name of Ecology Inc. because rural Elma had yet to get into the sewer district business at the time of its creation.
Photiadis said the original developer of the sewer district subsequently went broke, forcing the club and its adjacent homeowner members to run the operation. He said that the club, located on North Davis Road, "is ill-qualified to continue to operate the sewer system" and that the main sewer line under Crag Burn's 16th fairway needs to be reconstructed or preferably replaced.
He said Crag Burn officials and the Jacobs family have been working closely with TVGA Engineering & Surveyors of Elma and have asked the Town Board to adopt a resolution creating a sewer district, thereby allowing TVGA to prepare a map plan and report and to survey possible easements.
Photiadis said the cost of the proposed district and its operation would be borne by the Jacobs estate; Crag Burn village, which has 37 homes on 46 lots; and the country club. Elma town sewer personnel would operate the district under the plan.
Councilman George Blair Jr. said that if the town creates the sewer district and assumes its operation, it would be up to the town, through the assessor, to set the assessment rates per parcel of land. Photiadis conceded that because of a sewer main break under the 16th fairway, Crag Burn is currently in violation of state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. He said bids to correct the problems were received two years ago and came in between $175,000 and $225,000 for reconstruction of the sewer trunk line. He said the club's owners and the Jacobs family originally budgeted $400,000 for its reconstruction due to the "infiltration of water under the 16th fairway."
He said the current owners, including Jacobs, pay annual sewer maintenance fees of $250 per lot. He said some estate owners bulked at paying the fee when it was raised from $100 annually because the private club passed on the increase without Town of Elma approval.
"That's what prompted the club to employ TVGA," Photiadis said, with the 16th fairway problem still unresolved. "We're not presently in compliance with DEC law."
Under the club's, homeowners' and Jacobs' proposal the town would borrow the money to make the necessary repairs. It would ultimately be paid back, along with any costs associated with the district's operation, through assessments the town sets. The board will meet Tuesday with club and Jacobs family officials and TVGA.