PICTOU – A Plymouth resident who owns a former Westray Mine home will have to start paying his sewer maintenance bill.
County council voted earlier this week that the Plymouth man cannot be exempt from paying the sewer maintenance bill because he is within 200 feet of the buffer zone for the sewer system that has been in place in the area since 1990.
County CAO Brian Cullen said the county did a complete review last year of all of its sewer system areas that showed which homes were within the buffer zone. He said this information was cross checked with the bills being paid for the service and it was discovered that this homeowner was within the buffer zone, but not hooked up.
Coun. Andy Thompson asked council to consider exempting the homeowner from the maintenance bill since he has done upgrades to own system after receiving some misinformation from a county employee.
The home, formerly owned by Westray Mine manager Gerald Phillips, was put up for tax sale and purchased by the current homeowner in 1996. Thompson said the homeowner did considerable work to the property in the early 2000s and when the septic field at the house started acting up, he turned to a county employee for advice.
“He told him to fix up the sewer field,”he said.“The sewer system was already in, but at the time Phillip’s wasn’t obliged to be hooked in and didn’t hook in,”said Thompson.“The (homeowner) had incorrect info related to him. The reason why this sewer isn’t hooked in is because he invested money into his own sewer system based on faulty information.”
The homeowner told county staff he spent more than $2,000 on the septic system to get it up to spec. He doesn’t have to hook into the sewer system now, but he must start paying a sewer maintenance bill to the county.
Thompson asked that the homeowner be granted a partial exemption from paying the annual maintenance bill, which averages about $300 a year, but council was concerned that this could lead to more and more people coming in with their own excuses.
“Anyone can come up with a special circumstance,”said county warden Ron Baillie. “I know there are other systems out there that we have said no to. It could open up a barrel full of special circumstances we don’t want to deal with on a one-on-on basis.”
Cullen said the exemption for any private system that is working properly from the date it was installed or date the sewer system was installed. He said the sewer system in the area was installed in 1990 so the exemption ran out in 2005.