by Andrea Cole

Associate Editor

Stow -- The city will offer grants and a 20-year assessment program to residents who replace improper sewer connections.

According to Summit County Department of Environmental Services Deputy Director Mike Weant, nearly 200 residents in the Kenneth and Samira roads area must replace improper sewer connections. The repairs must be made to comply with an order from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Residents in this area who are replacing improper sewer connections have until the end of this year to complete the work. Any repairs not done by Dec. 31 will be made by county officials in 2008, and homeowners will have up to 10 years to pay for any county-performed repairs.

According to DOES officials, repairs could cost between $2,000 and $7,000 per household. Repairs include installing a new sump pump, installing floor drains and replacing laterals, which are sewer pipes that connect pipes in a house to the main sewer lines on a street. Weant said repairs completed by the county will cost an additional 20 percent to cover contracting fees.

Mayor Karen Fritschel said that after the city received a petition from 112 residents asking officials to offer their own assessment program, she worked with City Council to set up a 20-year assessment program.

"I think this will be a good program because I think the residents would rather deal with the city than the county," she said. "It's easier to talk to your City Council person than the County Council representative."

Although the repairs will be completed by the city, final inspections must be made by county officials, Fritschel added.

Along with the assessment program, the city also will offer grants of either 20 percent of the cost or $500 to residents who repair improper sewer connections. The lower amount of the two will be offered.

The grants will be offered through June 1, 2008, with a cap of $125,000, and are available citywide. The grants also are retroactive through June 1, 2006, so that any residents who have made the repairs in the past year are eligible.

"Residents [in the Kenneth and Samira roads area] have come to us repeatedly for help, and I think it is very reasonable in what they are asking," said Fritschel. "I think this will help residents all over the city."

Stow resident Brian Lowdermilk said he is happy the city is offering assistance.

"I think the assessment program will help a lot, and the grants will help people who simply can't afford to pay the full amount," he said.

Fritschel said residents who are interested in the assessments or grants should call her office at 330-689-2800.

E-mail: acole@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3947