City will foot bill for sewer line

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ Staff Writer

City Commissioner Randy Crowder said Wednesday he didn’t think the city should be responsible for an $81,000 sewer extension to property in north Clovis recently annexed into the city.

Crowder said property owners should reimburse the city for the installation and engineering costs.

But his motion to charge a special service fee to property owners that tie into a proposed sewer extension in the 60.72-acre tract failed 5-3 during Wednesday’s Public Works Committee meeting.

According to a petition to annex the land approved by the city commission last month, the city is responsible for the cost of any utility or sewer line installed in the annexed area.

Crowder said the clause in the petition went unnoticed by city commissioners before the vote.

“I honestly didn’t see it,” he said “It would have (raise my alarms).”

As a property owner in the annexed land, Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said she signed the petition to help development of the area. She said she was not aware of the utility clause.

She said she has no plans to develop her property, which she has owned for more than 10 years.

“(The sewer line) really doesn’t benefit us,” she said.

The sewer line clause was requested by land developer Bill Giese, who was working with officials from the Holiday Inn Express being built on the annexed land.

The sewer line will extend on the west side of Prince Street from Wal-Mart to Wilhite Road.

Brumfield said the Holiday Inn Express owners and other property owners will pay to have the property connected to the city sewer line.

“The city has done this in the past,” she said referring to when the city annexed the present location of Wal-Mart and installed a sewer line for the retail store.

Crowder said his motion was in line with a section in the city code that allows the city to set up a special service fee for situations such as this one.

“Property owners should pay a proportionate share of that extension,” he said.

He said he was concerned the city would be giving property owners and developers an unfair advantage.

Undeveloped property in the outer fringes like the ones in west Clovis do not have access to infrastructure such as sewer lines, he said. He said typically developers in the city are responsible for installing sewer lines to their properties.

City Manager Joe Thomas said during the public works meeting he was concerned charging the property owners to pay for the sewer extension after approving the petition could result in a lawsuit against the city.

In other business, the committee:

• Voted to speak with three property owners in northwest Clovis about locating drainage easements on their properties to drain water collecting on the intersections of Norris and Llano Estacado streets.

• Agreed to find out the cost of paving County Road I, which the city owns.

• Voted to recommend a paving project on Pile Street using Community Development Block Grants.