MORELAND HILLS — The village will pay for repairs to sewer laterals in rights of way for sanitary and storm sewers due to a new policy adopted by Mayor Susan Renda. Up until now, residents were required to finance the work even if the repair was in the right of way, not on private property.

Village Engineer Jeff Filarski said that it is sometimes “not a good situation” depending on which contractor the resident hired to repair the lateral. He also said that when it was the resident’s responsibility to repair a lateral in the right of way, the village could not control when the contractor came and village officials could not observe the work being done.

“I suggested that we take care of any repairs of laterals in the right of way when they’re needed,” Mr. Filarski said at the Facilities Committee meeting on Sept. 24. “That way, we can control the work and not harm our system.”

The new policy gives the village more control in various aspects of the process to repair a sewer lateral. Moreland Hills can hire a qualified contractor and supervise the project, control the repair schedule to make sure it is completed in a timely manner and control specifications for the materials used to ensure consistency with the materials and method of connection, according to the policy.

In addition, the policy allows the engineer to install inspection risers where necessary. Riser pipes come to the surface of the ground and allow for maintenance of the lateral, according to Mr. Filarski. The policy also allows the engineer to install a liner in the pipe if that is the best option and control restoration to ensure that it is done properly. Private contractors cannot install a liner in the pipe because it is a specialized process and the contractors do not offer that service, he said.

“Policies exist so that each resident is treated the same,” Mayor Renda said. “Policy lends to consistency which is important in government operations.”

Mr. Filarski explained that residents currently pay a special assessment to the village for the operation and maintenance of the sanitary sewers. Revenue from the assessment could be used in part to repair the sanitary sewer laterals so it is not a financial burden to Moreland Hills, according to the policy.

Residents also pay a fee to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District that is used for the maintenance of storm sewers. NEORSD has a community cost share program to provide member communities with funding for specific projects. Mr. Filarski said that 25 percent of the stormwater fee revenue in each community is collected in a fund that is controlled by NEORSD and the village can apply to use those funds. Mr. Filarski said another source of funding for lateral repairs is the village’s street maintenance program, which includes funds for drainage.

“The residents are already paying into a fund for storm repairs and we can tap into that,” Mr. Filarski said.

He explained that in most communities, the municipality repairs sewer laterals in the right of way. He said that Moreland Hills’ policy was “from the past.”

Mayor Renda said that this policy, as with all policies, is administrative and does not need council approval.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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