Silver Lake -- Several residents who live on two private roads in the village on Aug. 15 expressed opposition to a proposal that would charge for water system maintenance.
Village Council gave a second reading to an amendment to the village's water rate ordinance stating that all residents who are connected to the water system and those whose connection to the water system is through fire hydrant service must pay a minimum fixed charge for system upkeep. A third reading is scheduled for Council's next meeting on Sept. 6.
Nearly every resident is connected to the village's water system and sewer system and pays a flat rate of $15.94 per month for water system maintenance and are also charged for water they use. There are 30 village homes on North Dover Road and Woodland Lane (both of which are private) that are not connected to the village's water or sewer system who do not pay this flat rate, according to village officials. These homes use well water and are connected to Summit County's sewer system.
Village officials are proposing charging $15.94 per month to these residents because water from a fire hydrant could be used to put out a blaze at their home. There is a fire hydrant at Graham Road and North Dover which Cuyahoga Falls Fire Chief Paul Moledor said his department would use to fight a fire in that area.
If the charge is approved by Council, it would take effect in the Oct. 1 bills payable Oct. 20, according to the ordinance.
Village Solicitor Robert Heydorn said there are five homes on DeGruchy Drive, two homes on Kent Road, two homes on Lake Road and one home on Englewood Drive not hooked up to the village's water system whose owners already pay the $15.94 monthly charge.
Nine people (eight of whom live on either North Dover or Woodland) told Council Aug. 15 they were opposed to paying the $15.94 charge since none of them are tapped into the village's water system and the only way they would use water is if the fire department responded to a blaze at their home.
"The probability of us using water from the fire hydrant is very, very, very small," said North Dover Road resident Dennis Kimmell, who added the residents who have village water "pay the fixed cost, they get benefit on a daily basis."
Kimmell, whose home is more than 2,000 feet from the hydrant, said he felt it would take "a heck of lot longer" for the fire department to provide service to the homes on North Dover and Woodland Lane than in other places in the village.
Moledor said his department would send a ladder truck (which has water on it) and "three, if not four" engines to any such blaze, and emphasized that the fire department would attack the fire "right away" with water that comes in with the truck. Moledor also said an engine would be hooked up to the hydrant at Graham and North Dover, and then hose would be connected to another engine about 1,000 feet down the road and then to a third engine another 1,000 feet away.
"If it is a working fire, they're going to drop the hose at Graham [Road], and go on in and start to work," said Moledor. "We will extend lines / We practice that and have to do it within three minutes/"
The concern about fire department response came about because Mayor Bernie Hovey's letter to residents said the fire department "informed us that all residences on both North Dover Road and Woodland Lane are within the effective range of the fire hydrant on Graham Road."
At the meeting, Hovey clarified that the word "effective" was intended as a laymen's term rather than an expert's term.
"I regret any controversy or misunderstanding it may have caused," he told the Falls News-Press Aug. 17.
North Dover resident Jim Cavanaugh said, "We're willing to pay something, but we feel we're being way overcharged for what we're being serviced with."
Dave Chervenic, also a North Dover resident, called the proposed charge "very unfair."
North Dover resident Gary Bernardo said he felt the attempt to impose the fee challenged residents' "sovereignty" with the roads. Since the roads are private, those residents pay for maintenance and upkeep of the two streets, however, the village employees plow the roads in the winter.
Councilman William Church (At Large) assured Bernardo that there was no effort by Council to challenge the residents' sovereignty.
After the public comment session, Council took a break and the residents who spoke exited Village Hall. Council resumed its meeting, and when the legislation itself was reviewed, Council President Gerald Jones (At Large) said he felt the fee was "fair" and added he did not see how they could lower it as was suggested.
Heydorn said the issue was a "complicated question" and noted it would be difficult to determine how to arrive at a lower charge.
Heydorn said if the hydrant is used, "they have to use the entire [water] system."