Village officials address upcoming water project

By Joshua Keeran -

MECHANICSBURG – With the Water Distribution System Improvements Phase 1 Project expected to commence in mid-July, Village Council on Monday heard from a property owner seeking clarification concerning his responsibilities for replacement of infrastructure that could be affected by construction.

Vernon Reif, 372 W. Main St., informed council he recently received a letter sent by the village to all property owners living on West Main and High streets where the project will take place, and after reading the letter, he understood that property owners will be responsible for replacing the water service line to their home if it needs to be replaced, but he was wondering if property owners would also be on the hook for replacing any sidewalk dug up during construction.

“Anything that gets torn up will be replaced (as part of the project),” Mayor Greg Kimball said.

The project, which aims to address water concerns at the Mechancisburg Exempted village Schools’ complex on High Street, involves the replacement of 6- and 8-inch water mains along West Main and High streets with 12-inch mains that will be placed under the sidewalk instead of under the roadway.

Kimball added the village sent out a letter to all property owners in the project area as a way to be “proactive” and to make sure everyone was informed about the ins and outs of the project.

As for the potential replacement of water service lines from the curb box into the home, Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis said if during construction it’s determined the line needs replaced, it will be the homeowner’s financial responsibility.

She added a service line will need to be replaced if it’s found to be made of lead (required by the EPA) or if it’s a galvanized pipe that has deteriorated to the point where it can no longer connect to the new curb box (houses shut-off valve) being installed along with the water mains and service taps (pipe from water main to curb box).

Both Kimball and Huggins-Davis noted the contractor said similar projects usually result in 1 to 2 percent of homeowners needing to replace their service lines.

Rezoning request to be discussed

Council was informed the Mechanicsburg Planning Commission will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, to begin discussing a rezoning request submitted by Casey’s Marketing Company, which is requesting two properties at 305 and 315 W. Main St. be rezoned from R-2 Medium Density Residential District to B-2 Highway and General Business.

Huggins-Davis said that, according to the application, the rezoning measure is being sought to allow for the proposed construction of Casey’s General Store, a chain of convenience stores/gas stations headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa.

No vote will take place during Saturday’s “informational meeting,” she added. Instead, Planning Commission must hold a public hearing prior to voting on whether to recommend the rezoning change to council.

Once Planning Commission makes its recommendation, Huggins-Davis said, council will hold its own public hearing prior to voting on the matter.

Renewal levy heading to ballot

Following a third reading, council approved a resolution that will place before voters on Nov. 7 a 4-mill renewal levy for fire protection and emergency medical services (EMS).

If it is approved by voters, the Champaign County Auditor’s Office estimates the 5-year renewal levy will generate property tax revenue of $68,800 per year, assuming the tax valuation remains constant throughout the term of the levy.

Fire Chief Bob Keene said his department will be holding an open house to discuss the renewal levy at a later date.

In other business:

•In light of increased motorcycle crashes this spring, Keene reminded all drivers to remain vigilant while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

•Police Chief John Alexander cautioned residents from giving out their Social Security numbers over the phone to individuals claiming to be with the IRS. He added the IRS typically doesn’t request that type of information over the phone.

•Alexander asked that dog owners make it a priority to keep their K9s from running at large.

•With kids out of school for the summer, Kimball asked that drivers slow down and be cautious of children when traveling down alleys.

He also reminded property owners who live along an alley that it’s their responsibility to trim back any brush or branches hanging out into the roadway.

By Joshua Keeran

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter@UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter@UDCKeeran.