COOPER TWP. — Business owners urge residents to attend Cooper Township Municipal Authority's meeting Aug. 19 where they will present petitions for reasonable tap-on fees and monthly fees for the new sewer system.

At a meeting Monday night attended by 15 business representatives, Ann Fleming Hurst, owner of Fleming's Antiques and Lamps, said residents and businesses affected by the system covering part of the township and all township residents should attend. A tax could result if the authority can't meet its payments on a $3.1 million PennVEST loan for the system starting in January.

Attorney Michael Gregorowicz, who attended the meeting, plans to prepare questions about rates and fees to pose to the authority, which meets at 5:30 p.m. in the township building.

Hurst said 26 customers have connected to the system, which is supposed to serve 347. The system will serve mainly the Route 11 corridor and part of Bloom Road where on-lot systems were reported to have failed.

Her husband, Harold Hurst, said Pepper Hills Mobile Home Park is supposed to be metered and he wasn't sure if the owners, who are of retirement age, would continue to operate the park.

Ann Hurst said her business has been assessed for 2 1/2 EDUs, or equivalent dwelling units, for an apartment where there is no tenant and a bathroom used by customers, herself and an employee there once a week. She was earlier assessed for 1 1/2 EDUs.

Lorne Fritz, who owns Sports Car Haven, said initially authority members said small businesses would be charged the same as residential rates.

"They didn't tell us what it would cost until Christmas," said Fritz, who has attended numerous authority meetings. He has been assessed at $3,800 for a tap-on fee at a business he has owned since 1976, which doesn't have a bathroom since he lives next door. He said he wasn't connecting to the system. "I'll close the business first," he said.

Brian Seidel, owner of Seidel's Mardi Gras where the meeting was held, has petitions for businesses to sign as does Ann Hurst at her business. Resident Chris Pfaff has petitions for residents to sign.

As of Monday night, Ann Hurst said she has 13 business signers. 

Gregorowicz said the issues involve a connection fee and a tapping fee based on various components. He said the group of businesses needs to determine how EDUs were calculated and if they are within reason.

The EDU for a homeowner is $2,500. The homeowner would also pay a $76 monthly sewer bill.

Seidel is looking at a tap-on fee of $25,000 and the Danville Child Development Center is being billed a $12,500 tap-on fee.

Authority Chairman John Houston has said about 70 percent of the EDU will go to Danville to process sewage from the township and the rest will be used by the township for billing by a commercial firm, toward debt owed for the system and a small amount for emergencies. 

Residents whose incomes qualify can apply for grants to connect their properties to the system. There is no cap on the amount they can receive, according to SEDA-COG.