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Landowners may be paying Albertsons for their water

"Private property owners might have to pay both the city of Port Orchard and Albertson’s if they want to connect to a new water main located north of Sedgwick Road along Sidney Avenue.No one knows for sure whether sole fiscal liability will fall at Albertson’s doorstep for its construction of water and sewer line extensions that touch on both private and city-owned properties.According to Albertson’s representatives, some $300,000 was spent on water and sewer lines, as well as a sewer-pump station that serves the new store which officially opens today. While the station is located on Albertson’s-owned property, the pipes stretch north of Sedgwick along Sidney and later connect with the city’s water service. Roughly 15 property owners along Sidney could potentially tap into those water lines if they so desired. The question is: Will they pay the city for hookup fees or will they have to pay Albertson’s, too? City engineer Larry Curles said the property owners operate their own wells, which supply “hard water.” To many, city water is an attractive alternative because it’s treated with chlorine and won’t wreak havoc on appliances.Albertson’s representatives say the utility improvements were built with the understanding that Albertson’s had secured a developer’s extension agreement with the city. Allowed under state law, the agreement in this case means the city can coordinate late-comers fees from property owners who connect to the water lines.From the city’s perspective, no such agreement was made. Curles said. Albertson’s didn’t get one before construction commenced. According to city law, developers who want a developer’s extension agreement must first submit to the city a notarized statement containing information related to the cost of the construction project, the amount of land it will service and the amount of land it could service.None of that was accomplished, city officials say.On the contrary, says Bill Dunning of Pacific Land Use Design, who for weeks has worked on behalf of Albertson’s to secure the agreement.An understanding was established at the outset, he said, though he agreed that technically Albertson’s didn’t meet all of its paperwork requirements.An appeal has been pending for several weeks, but the difference in opinion may have been reconciled this morning. Even before the ribbon-cutting ceremony was to take place at Albertson’s, City Council members who are on the council’s Water and Sewer Committee were expected to meet with store representatives.If council members decide to grant a developer’s extension agreement, potentially affected landowners would be notified and a public meeting would be scheduled. The potential costs to landowners who want to hook up to the water line haven’t been calculated yet because the agreement hasn’t been secured. What’s clear, though, is that the costs will be unique to the boundaries of each piece of property. Plus, Curles noted that if Albertson’s does receive an agreement, hookups could cost property owners thousands of dollars more than if Albertson’s never secured a deal. That’s because an extension agreement forces customers to pay city hookup fees as well as developer reimbursement fees. Currently, Port Orchard’s water connection fee is $750 per dwelling unit."

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