Town working with residents about concerns over lift station project



For Wendy Sharp, the home at the corner of Seymour Road and Cindy Lane in Crothersville holds a lot of sentimental value.

It’s owned by her grandparents, Arnolia and Rosie Riley, but soon will be signed over to her and her husband, Jacob Sharp.

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In the past six years, Wendy said they have put a lot of work into renovating the inside and have plans to make improvements outside, too.

A recent project in their yard, though, has raised some concerns.

The town received a grant to replace an aging lift station, which was installed around the 1960s and is surrounded on all sides by a short brick wall.

The new lift station was moved to the west in their yard and is underground but now is closer to their home and to their surprise includes a large above-ground electrical panel.

Four mature trees had to be cut down, which resulted in them losing shade and privacy. Wendy said those trees were planted by her grandfather.

“This house is very near and dear to my heart. That’s why I moved here. I grew up in this town. I love this town,” she told the Crothersville Town Council during a meeting Tuesday night at the town hall.

They recently had windows appraised and gutted all of the landscaping to have it redone to help bring the house back to life, she said.

“But then this (lift station) comes, and we’re like, ‘Did that just drop all of the work that we’ve done? Did that just take away all of the value we put in it?’ And we can’t restore those trees, so that’s a total loss for us,” Wendy said. “As members and homeowners, we should have never lost anything due to this project.”

When the project started, Jacob said they signed papers agreeing to the lift station being moved, but they thought it was going to be similar in size to the one already in their yard.

“It’s a pretty big eyesore. We’re not happy with it,” he said.

“The project was five times bigger than what was originally told. We’ve lost four mature trees. We’ve lost all of our privacy. We’ve lost our shade,” Wendy added. “The thing is, nobody communicated with us all through this project. The beginning when we signed, the project was just entirely different than what is there now. … We just felt like we had no say in our yard.”

The 5-by-8-foot electrical panel is about 12 feet from the Sharps’ home.

“I don’t think anybody would want this thing next to their house. We’re worried about the depreciation of our house, like how much is this going to drop our value on our home?” Jacob said.

Wendy said through research, she learned a mature tree can add between $1,000 and $3,000 in property value. She said the four being taken down could result in them losing tens of thousands of dollars in property value. Plus, with the trees gone, Wendy said the bedrooms are 20 degrees hotter, which will affect their electric bill.

“The privacy, the shade, all of that, the things that would have added value to our home are gone. Now, we have a huge lift station and a giant panel outside my kids’ bedroom window. That’s not OK,” she said.

“As a mom, I’m thinking, ‘What if that thing malfunctions? What if it catches fire? What if lightning strikes it?’ because it’s just a metal thing in the middle of my yard,” she said. “It frightens me, and nobody gave me a choice, so I want to know my options now. Whether I like it or not, show me what we can or cannot to.”

The Sharps both said they know that part of town needs the lift station because it will help with flow and alleviate drainage issues. The placement and size of it, however, were unexpected.

“I knew this was necessary, and we were very compliant with every bit of it, but this was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is where I had to draw the line,” Wendy said. “We’ve now lost money for this project, and we’ve just got to figure out some kind of compromise there.”

Brad Bender with FPBH Inc., which is overseeing the project, said the cost of putting up some kind of barrier, like a fence, a tree or landscaping, around the panel would have to be done separately because leftover grant funding can’t be used.

John Megel, also with FPBH, said he will have to check to see if the panel can be moved.

The Sharps also said they are out of space in their home and need a garage built on the property, but they aren’t sure if that can be done because of a drain pipe that was placed underground behind their home. The purpose of the town receiving a 25-foot easement for that pipe is so there will be access in case there’s ever a problem with it.

Bender said he and Megel will meet with Sewer Superintendent Mason Boicourt and the Sharps to determine options moving forward.

“Yes, an easement can be changed. What’s that mean and look at that, I think that’s just the best way to go at this point in time — take everybody’s concerns into account,” Bender said. “I’m sure the town wants to be a good neighbor.”

Councilman Bob Lyttle lives across the street from the Sharps. He said while the contractor has done a great job with the project, he doesn’t blame the Sharps for being concerned about the large panel.

“I appreciate them saying they didn’t want to stop progress. It needed to be done. It really did. But I just don’t think we ought to take anything from them,” he said. “I know the electrical panel is safe, but if you don’t know anything about it, it’s scary. I don’t know what we can do. Let’s work together, see what we can do and we’ll go from there.”

Councilwoman Brenda Holzworth praised the Sharps for how they addressed the council.

“I appreciate the fact that these people came here and they were not irate and they were calm and easy to listen to and they were not causing problems,” she said. “They just wanted to find solutions.”

Megel said the Sharps have been very cooperative since the beginning, and Wendy said she would appreciate everyone working together to resolve the issue.

“I think that’s what everyone wants — for everybody to come out happy,” council President Danieta Foster said.

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