Montour County and Cooper Township officials have long had designs on the Route 11 corridor between Danville and Bloomsburg as a growth area for residential and commercial properties. The cost, however, of connecting to the sewer system in nearby Danville borough could drive businesses out because of sewage hookup fees and monthly rates.

The state Department of Environmental Protection mandated the township install public sewer in part of the township, mostly along Route 11 and some properties along Bloom Road after septic systems failed.

Business owner Ann Fleming Hurst said people can’t afford the rates set by the township municipal authority on the advice of engineers. They want rates in line with those in Mahoning Township and Danville and for the authority to hire another engineering firm to make recommendations on fees. In Danville, customers pay $110 per quarter. In Cooper, they cost is expected to be $76 per month.

The cost to hook up will include a fee to connect to Danville’s system, a monthly fee and along with a fee for a contractor to connect properties to the township sewer lines. For some, that means thousands of dollars out the door before the monthly fees even kick in. 

For businesses, many of them small businesses, the expense can be overwhelming. The equivalent dwelling unit, or EDU, a fee for a home is $2,500, with about 70 percent going to the Danville sewage system, which processes the township’s sewage. The EDU is a measure of volume or expected volume of sewage. 

Brian Seidel, owner of Seidel’s Mardi Gras, said he is facing a $25,000 EDU fee along with a monthly bill of $760 per month and $10,000 to connect to the system. Hurst, who owns Fleming’s Antiques and Lamps, said she was assessed at 1 1/2 EDUs for $3,800, then 2 1/2 EDUs, and when officials visited her business, they said she would owe another $2,500. “I would be paying $6,000 to $7,000 before it’s dug up,” she said.

The hookup fee for Danville residential and commercial customers is $1,787.

That’s a lot of money for anyone, including a business owner. Tyler Dombroski, of SEDA-COG, said people can apply for financial help.

More importantly, township officials, business owners and residents need to talk and figure something out, especially if there is not enough financial assistance.

Why can’t the rates be more in line with those in Danville and Mahoning Township? What happens if no one wants to connect?

We’d hate to see a project that was supposed to help attract new businesses to the Route 11 corridor have the opposite effect.

The township must come up with a solution. It’s too late to flush the project down the drain.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Danville editor Joe Sylvester.