Vivry Creek that is. Without sufficient water supply or sewer capacity, this project is literally up the creek. We need to address those issues and negotiate a fair and balanced cost to add the capacity needed to sewer and water so that a new development doesn’t cost existing taxpayers more money.
Nicanco’s Pine Beach proposal is, in my opinion, a great opportunity for Hudson and an necessary part of our future. It’s been in the works since 2001, much has changed and so needs to be adapted to today’s reality.
When it was first conceived and zoned, there was no sewer system in Hudson and we thought we had lots of water capacity. The original project approved was based on a shared septic plan. Without a connection to our treatment facility, I’d argue against this current planned expansion of the original zoning. I think it would be a bad choice to accept 200+ units on shared septic in such land at water’s edge.
The capital structures of sewer and water are very different in Hudson, so by necessity we need to treat them separately. Today I’ll opine on the sewers and what they should cost the project and not the taxpayers.
The debt for the sewer network and our Brick Shithouse Treatment plant are currently funded by only those who can be connected to the sewer network, approximately 900 ratepayers listed in something called Annex A. It is my opinion that those Annex A taxpayers need to have a say in approving the connection of a proposed 316 new units to the network and treatment.
We were told we had 20-25% overcapacity in the design of the treatment plant, and this Pine Beach development would be approximately a 35% increase in connections when fully built.So clearly, approving Pine Beach will, at some point in the planned seven year completion, require a significant and expensive expansion of our sewage treatment facility.
I don’t have the exact numbers, but I believe the Brick Shithouse Treatment plant cost approximately $8,000,000 to build and commission, divide by 900 connections and you get approximately $8,900.00 capital cost per home served. I believe expansion will be less costly than a new build, so I’ll call that 60% to add capacity and round it to $5,250 per connection.
In my opinion, we need to ensure that Hudson’s Sewage Treatment Network gets funded for an average of $5,250 per unit so we can expand it and maintain some overcapacity. These are hypothetical numbers and smarter people than me need to review and adjust them. I would propose to divide that average per connection cost into a habitable per square foot permitted to build cost, so if the average unit on Pine beach would be 1,600 square feet of habitable living space, the cost to fund sewage treatment would be $ 3.28/ Square foot.
I chose to propose a per square foot cost on the builder when the building is approved for several reasons:
- To ensure that we’re funded early and progressively, without asking for a pile of money from the developer up front.
- We get paid up front from the builder when a permit is issued to build, based on actual plans. If they didn’t have sewage treatment they’d have to pay to install septic and couldn’t build as many units.
- To impact larger homes with larger costs and allow smaller condos with fewer bathrooms and occupants to have a smaller impact.
- The funds so generated can be clearly segregated and allocated to a fund for Sewage Treatment expansion.
I’m betting that these units will sell for in the range of $300/square foot and a town willing to extend their existing sewage treatment plant for approximately 1% of a unit’s cost is not going to kill a sale.
Please note that it will remain the responsibility of the developer to provide collection, piping and pumping to get the sewage from Pine Beach to the pumping station by the community center. I’d like to see a twinned system, so that if a pump or pipe on the way to our system fails we have enough capacity to avoid overflows into the Ottawa River.
This is just one idea, but it’s simple and clear. We need to stop the post development financial bleeding we’ve had in the past where we’ve had to pave roads that developers should have paved and absorbed other costs.
Keep it simple, recognize that development might be necessary, but development should not cost existing users to spend more so we can add a development. I believe that we need to name the price for sewage treatment capacity up front as a condition of approving the project requiring connection. Not just on this project, but any future projects that wish to connect to our existing sewage treatment capacity.