Clarence and Erie County officials want to build a sewer line in Amherst as part of a plan to stimulate development in the Harris Hill Road area, Amherst officials learned Monday.
But, instead of having taxpayers foot the estimated $2 million bill for the new line, supporters are proposing that it be built by private interests.
Erie County Deputy Planning Commissioner Thomas J. Whetham appeared at an Amherst Town Board working session to outline plans for the proposed sewer, which would be built alongside an existing line in the former Peanut Line Railroad from Transit Road to Paradise Road, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile.
"Maybe we can do a couple of good things for Amherst and also help the Town of Clarence with some of their issues," Amherst Town Engineer Jeffrey Burroughs told Amherst lawmakers.
But Council Members William L. Kindel and Shelly C. Schratz expressed doubts, saying the new line will stimulate suburban sprawl and noting that Amherst officials continue to believe Clarence and Erie County owe Amherst for overdue sewage treatment bills.
Amherst Supervisor Satish B. Mohan also raised a new issue, saying the customers of Erie County Sewer District 5 and the Clarence Sewer District are paying far less for sewage treatment than residents of Amherst, which owns the treatment plant.
He listed the annual costs at $331 for Amherst residents, versus $107 for residents of Clarence Center and $183 for those in County District 5, which runs along Transit Road from Eastern Hills Mall northward for several miles.
The proposed new 24-inch sewer line in Amherst would increase capacity to handle sewage in the Harris Hill Road area, opening up new residential and business development for Clarence, Whetham told Amherst Board members.
As a carrot for Amherst, the new line would also relieve pressure on the Dodge Road interceptor, which is at capacity, Burroughs said, and a "bottleneck" in the present line running along the former rail line.
Amherst would benefit by eliminating a "bottleneck" created when a 24-inch line from Clarence was hooked to an 18-inch line on the Amherst segment of the Peanut line, reducing the capacity.
He said both the county and Clarence are very interested in increasing the capacity in Amherst and hope to begin seeking proposals from private contractors.