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Cape Vincent hopes to retain outside users trying to opt-out of Water District 6 by changing fees


CAPE VINCENT — The town has proposed a new fee structure for Water District 6 in hopes of luring back property owners wanting to opt out.

For grant application purposes, Cape Vincent had proposed to expand Water District 6 to include 20 additional Pleasant Valley Road properties.

The proposed expansion, however, met with backlash from upset property owners who already had been drawing water from the village of Cape Vincent as outside users and would not benefit from the multimillion-dollar project.

Under a new fee proposal drafted by Bernier, Carr and Associates, Watertown, outside users with up-to-date water infrastructure added to Water District 6 are estimated to pay less than half of what properties now without municipal water would be spending on the service.

While the municipal water service is projected to cost $558 annually for residents now without potable water, outside users with all the adequate infrastructure would pay only $248 per year. Owners of vacant lots in the district would pay $35 per year under the proposal.

Engineers estimate that the per-year cost to be included in Water District 6 would be about $9 lower than what outside users now are paying for village water.

However, at least one longtime Pleasant Valley Road homeowner who purchases water from the village argued that the engineers’ estimate is misleading.

Thomas K. Rienbeck, a former town supervisor and outside user, said he pays less than $200 a year for village water. He said he spent $192 over the past 12 months but also acknowledged that a household with children likely would pay a little more.

“I have no interest in this thing because of the way they went about it and because it brings me no benefit,” Mr. Rienbeck said. “And for them to say they’re going to look out for our health and safety is bogus.”

For months, town property owners near the village’s western boundary have argued that they were added to an expanded Water District 6 without their consent to make the $2.8 million project more affordable for the original district’s residents.

But Matthew J. Cooper of Bernier, Carr suggested at a February Town Council meeting that properties connected to the village’s water line should be part of a formal district regardless, because the village of Cape Vincent was notified several years ago by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that it did not have a permit to sell water to outside users.

Councilman John L. Byrne had said that while he believes 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, they should at least consider being part of the district in case DEC decides to enforce the rules.

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