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Cape officials hope to resolve dispute over proposed Water District 6 expansion


CAPE VINCENT — The Town Council is working toward resolving a dispute over the proposed expansion of Water District 6.

At their April 18 meeting, town officials will consider a resolution allowing at least some property owners involuntarily included in the expanded Water District 6 to opt out.

Councilman John L. Byrne said properties that are hooked to the village’s municipal water system — and are up to code in terms of infrastructure — should not be forced to join Water District 6.

“I do not feel it is the town’s job to shut off users that have an agreement with another municipality,” he said.

Cape Vincent’s town board has been taking heat lately from several Pleasant Valley Road landowners after expanding the boundaries of Water District 6 to include 20 additional properties for planning and grant application purposes.

These landowners have argued that they should not be dragged into Water District 6 just to make the multimillion-dollar project more affordable for the original district’s residents.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, Deputy Supervisor Brooks J. Bragdon and Councilman Clifford P. Schneider said they would abstain from voting on this matter because Mr. Bragdon was involved in the sale of the some of the properties, including Mr. Schneider’s.

If the other three town officials decide to allow property owners to opt out of the project, however, it’s unlikely that Water District 6 will be eligible for financial assistance from the state or federal governments.

The town has tried and failed twice to secure grant funding, essentially because the residents’ income was too high.

The estimated $2.8 million project would serve more than 90 homes and the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse facilities west of the village.

But even if the town board votes to allow some Pleasant Valley Road landowners to opt out of the Water District 6 project, Cape Vincent officials believe they should be included in a municipal water district as the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation “frown upon” outside water users.

“As the town board we have a responsibility to make sure all infrastructure is up to code, and water is safe for the residents. If the people hooked up to the village line, per an agreement with the village, as outside users choose to form a district we would be happy to help them form a district at minimum cost,” Mr. Byrne said in an email to the Times.

Several years ago, the village Board of Trustees was notified by DEC that it did not have a permit to sell water to outside users.

“Unfortunately, if those same users choose not to form a district and the DEC and/or DOH choose to enforce their shut off policies, we — the town board — can’t help those users,” Mr. Byrne said.

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