Ballston Lake sewer project

A lawn sign showing support for the project

BALLSTON, N.Y. — The Ballston Lake sewer project will move forward after voters in the proposed district Monday gave the town their approval to accept a state grant to help cover the costs by a margin of nearly 2-1.

In Monday’s special election, deed holders from the Town of Ballston and from a number of properties in Clifton Park voted 395 yes and 225 no.

Voters in the Town of Ballston voted 345 to 196 to accept the grant. Voters from Clifton Park accepted the funding by a vote of 50 to 29. There were two spoiled ballots, two affidavits, and one ineligible vote recorded.

The planned sewer district will encompass the lake and include the Buell Heights residential subdivision. Total cost estimates are $17,754,601. Individual households will be billed an estimated $872 a year for 30 years to pay for the installation of the sewer lines.

Connections between the homes and businesses and the sewer line will be done on an individual basis at a separate cost to the owner. Estimates for this service are based on the distance between the structure and the line and could vary between $2,500 and $10,000. Once operable, usage will be billed to the structures by the Saratoga County Sewer Authority.

There have been multiple attempts to put public sewer around the lake. A special vote in 1995, which would have cost deed holders about $225 a year for 30 years, was defeated. A renewed push for a sewer line started up again in 2012 when the state Department of Environmental Conservation declared the lake an impaired body of water.   

Monday’s vote was the second successful one in the past five years. The favorable vote in 2015 stalled when construction bids on the project came in far above the total cost estimates of $10.2 million.

That construction proposal was later divided into separate sections and put back out to bid. The town of Ballston, which acts as the lead agency for both towns, then applied for and received two grants from the state totaling $7.5 million.

On Monday, voters cast their votes on whether to accept the latest grant offer of $5 million from the DEC.

During a public hearing in June on whether to schedule the special election on the grant money, Ballston Town Supervisor Eric Connolly acknowledged the vote would be a big moment in Ballston’s history.

“Voting whether to accept or not to accept the $5 million will determine a lot,” he said at the hearing.

Votes to put a sewer line around the lake have been divisive through the years because some town residents, whether living inside or outside the district’s boundaries, are concerned with it fostering aggressive development in town. Others who oppose it have working septic systems and don’t particularly want to ante up $900 a year for 30 years for something they aren’t using.

Builders and developers consider sewer lines more important than water lines in developing an area. The land around Ballston Lake, however, is nearly fully developed.

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