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HOME SALES MAY REQUIRE INSPECTION

Cheektowaga homeowners may have to pay for a $75 plumbing inspection -- and possibly install basement sump pumps -- before they can sell their homes, according to a proposed ordinance being discussed by town lawmakers.

The proposal aims to correct the situation in many older Cheektowaga homes, where improperly connected drainage systems carry rain and ground water into the public sanitary sewer system.

Inspection and correction of this problem in homes for sale should help reduce the amount of storm water entering and flooding the public sanitary sewer system, which in turn causes sewer backups, creates basement flooding and costs Cheektowaga thousands of additional dollars each year to treat the extra water in the sanitary sewer system, town officials said.

The proposed provision is similar to a Town of Tonawanda ordinance.

Right now, however, Cheektowaga officials are skeptical and only discussing the idea.

"It's not ready to go anywhere," Cheektowaga Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said. "There are just too many unanswered questions."

The proposal works like this:

Homeowners selling their house would pay the town $25 to file for the inspection. Homeowners also would pay for a plumber to conduct the inspection. Several private plumbers have agreed to do the inspection for $50.

If the plumber is satisfied the home's drainage system is properly connected, nothing more needs to be done.

If there are problems, however, the town would want the situation corrected before the home is sold.

That would likely mean spending as much as $1,000 to install a sump pump to remove cellar water sometimes caused by heavy rains and quick snow thaws.

"This is strictly upon sale of homes. The houses, as they were sold, would be brought up to code," said Cheektowaga Councilman Thomas M. Johnson Jr, who has been devising the proposal with town engineers. "It also prevents a situation of sewage backing up and it reduces the amount of flow into a local street sewer."

Furthermore, state and federal environmental officials have expressed concern about wastewater from overflowing sewer lines running into and polluting local streams, town officials said.

"It's a serious situation," Johnson added.

Still, some town officials don't like the idea.

There has to be another way to handle this problem without adding more cost to taxpayers, Councilman James J. Jankowiak said.

"I don't know if this ordinance is something that has to happen," Jankowiak said. "It's difficult enough to sell your home and we're going to add a $1,000 expense to it? This is an unnecessary tax on the people of the Town of Cheektowaga."

There are between 1,200 and 1,700 Cheektowaga homes for sale each year, said Ronald S. Marten, Cheektowaga's supervising building and plumbing inspector. Roughly 400 would likely have flooding problems that require a sump pump to be installed, Marten estimates.

Senior citizens and low-income homeowners, however, would likely qualify for some town grant funding to help cover costs, Marten said.

Johnson thinks this proposal would be a positive step for the town to take, but said he won't push the matter if there's not a consensus on the Town Board.

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