MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — The Township Committee on Monday passed an ordinance mandating about 1,000 homeowners in and around the Del Haven section of the township connect to Lower Township’s water system.
No one from the public commented on the ordinance during a public hearing before the vote. Several residents commented when the ordinance was introduced June 17.
Homes in the area should be able to turn on the taps for the new municipal water by the spring of 2021. In all, the ordinance will affect 983 properties.
Township officials said the deal has been in the works for about a year, and for longer than that, the township has sought a solution to the area’s water woes.
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Salt water has been infiltrating the shallow residential wells in Del Haven, areas of Green Creek and other nearby homes for years.
Mayor Tim Donohue said even those with new wells or whose wells have not had problems will face the issue soon.
“This is a mandatory hook-up ordinance, which I know some people aren’t happy about, but if there’s a thousand new customers we’re adding, I’ve had about five or six people call to complain that they were being forced to hook up,” Donohue said.
At a previous meeting, Township Committee approved the contract with the Lower Township Municipal Utilities Authority to provide water to Middle Township customers.
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According to Mike Chapman, executive director of the Lower Township MUA, the total cost of the project will be about $10 million. That includes extending the water mains from Villas to Del Haven and tying into the Wildwood water utility to ensure enough water supply.
For most homeowners in the project area, the water rate would be about $54 per quarter, according to information presented at previous meetings, with an additional charge of $99.41 per quarter to cover the cost of installing water mains.
Homeowners will also face a one-time connection fee of $1,600 to tie into the system, which can be incorporated into the water bill interest-free, for an additional $80 per quarter until that total is paid off after five years.
Township officials say this is the most affordable option for homeowners that will not increase township debt or cost taxpayers in other areas. The township does not have its own water utility or authority, with other areas relying on New Jersey American Water or private wells.
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Donohue said the project could not have been completed without mandating owners connect to the new system.
“In my experience and from people I’ve talked to, these projects just simply aren’t done without the mandatory hook-up requirements,” he said. “
Some residents may have just completed work on a new well, he said, describing it as bad timing.
“We regret that, but it’s nothing we can change,” Donohue said.