CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — After a prolonged process to restart the Ballston Lake sewer project, the towns of Clifton Park and Ballston have fulfilled all legal requirements needed to accept additional funding and put that acceptance to property owners.
A vote of deed holders in the Ballston Lake Sewer District has been scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. Aug. 17 in Ballston Town Hall and in the Ballston Lake Firehouse by both town boards.
The two towns have been working as partners to put in sanitary sewer lines around Ballston Lake and through Ballston’s residential subdivision, Buell Heights. There are 651 units impacted by the plan, 560 units are in the Town of Ballston and 91 are in Clifton Park.
What had once been a clear lake has slowly gone murky due to sewage leaking from septic systems on properties surrounding the lake. With prodding from the state Department of Environmental Conservation the Town of Ballston, in 2015, put together a plan and got voter approval to put out bids for constructing the project. When the bids came in totaling more than the originally estimated cost of $10.2 million, the project came to a halt.
After separating construction into five parts and getting a $5 million grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation the project was ready to move forward once again as long as those impacted by it approve of the monetary change.
According to figures provided by officials with the Ballston Town Board the original $907 charge per year for 30 years to sewer district homeowners for its construction has not changed despite the change in the project’s total cost. One time connections to the sewer lines and incremental usage fees are extra.
The additional funding from the grant produced some temporary setbacks for both towns. In Clifton Park, the special sewer district formed several years ago for those homes in town that are part of the project had to be reestablished by the Town Board. That action necessitated a public hearing which was held June 15. The Town Board gave its approval for reestablishing its sewer district the same night.
As the lead municipality for the project, the Ballston Town Board had to formally accept the additional funding and agree to increase the total cost of the project to $17.54 million. As with Clifton Park the action necessitated a public hearing and a vote by the Town Board.
The Ballston Town Board held its public hearing live in the Burnt Hills High School gym as well as virtually on June 4. Both municipalities’ public hearings drew numerous supporters of the project and in some cases those supporters spoke at both meetings.
A vote by the Ballston Town Board on whether to increase the project’s total cost was held June 9. Hovering over the proceedings however was the legal stipulation that any action taken by the board was subject to a permissive referendum. Should 30 or 40 district residents not agree to the board’s action they could request a special vote be held on whether to proceed with the project.
If the demand for a permissive referendum was undertaken and successful, legal time constraints would put any chance of getting shovels in the ground back at least 90 days. With this in mind, and having heard there were some who were preparing to go forward with seeking signatures for a permissive referendum, the Ballston Town Board on June 9 agreed to accept the $5 million grant and scheduled a special election for the following month.
By scheduling the vote directly the board negated the 30 day window allowed for any permissive referendum.
Within 48 hours however the board learned that the date it had selected was in question due to legal stipulations in the election law. At a special Town Board meeting on June 15 Ballston Town Board members agreed unanimously to change the date to Aug. 17 and thereby satisfy all legal stipulations.