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Town of Lockport may offer developers breaks on sewers

LOCKPORT – Thanks to its repairs of leaking sewer lines, the Town of Lockport may be able to give developers a break on costs of future projects.

Supervisor Marc R. Smith said that when the town takes over enforcement of state stormwater regulations next year, its current program of repairs that prevent rain and snowmelt from leaking into sewers may enable the town to help developers.

Town Engineer Robert D. Klavoon told the Town Board Monday that the stormwater regulations that the state Department of Environmental Conservation wants enforced are already on the books, but as of next summer, larger towns will be required to enforce the provisions themselves instead of the DEC doing so.

Klavoon said those rules include a requirement that any developer who builds something that generates more sanitary sewage must pay to eliminate four times as much storm sewage – if necessary by paying to repair leaky lines in an area of the town completely unrelated to the developer’s actual project.

Smith said, “We really felt that was unacceptable. It was an unfunded mandate put on business.”

Klavoon said the developer of a recent residential subdivision off Lincoln Avenue had to repair seven leaking sewer connections at a price of about $1,500 each.

The DEC wants to reduce sewer flows and the risk of treatment plants’ capacities from being exceeded during wet weather, leading to untreated sewage entering waterways.

The town recently has had sewer lines checked for leaks in several areas of the town, leading to a repair program to keep precipitation from making its way through holes in the pipes.

A major repair on Tonawanda Creek Road this year is the largest, but there have been others.

The Niagara County Sewer District has offered each member town $20,000 in reimbursements toward investigations of the conditions of sewers, Smith said.

Since it has a record of how much stormwater was leaking in thanks to the reports it received, the Town of Lockport has built up credits with the DEC for each gallon of infiltration eliminated by the repairs. Smith said, “I think the DEC is very happy with the aggressive approach we’ve taken to infiltration and inflow.”

He said the town will be able to offer those gallon-by-gallon credits to developers on a first-come, first-served basis, so it won’t have to pay for sewer repairs that may not have anything to do with their plans. The town’s credits expire after two years, Smith said.

In other matters Monday, the board agreed to rent a utility trailer to the Western New York Land Conservancy for $100 for the summer, so town resident Kenneth Horvath, selected by the conservancy to work on preparing its new Stella Niagara nature preserve in Lewiston, doesn’t have to make other arrangements to haul his all-terrain vehicle to Lewiston.

Smith said the conservancy has been a good partner for the town in helping to administer Lockport’s Lytle Park nature preserve, while Horvath has been a diligent worker on environmental matters in the town.

Town Attorney Michael J. Norris said the deal was acceptable because the conservancy is a not-for-profit organization.

The board also decided to award a $19,900 contract to ASI Signage Innovations of Grand Island for signs at Lytle and Day Road parks, as well as “wayfinding” signs directing drivers to those parks.

The vote on the contract is set for Wednesday’s formal board meeting.