In this photo from November 2019, mayor David McCauley reads a statement saying the city plans to retain and defend its utility territory.

City, J.F. Allen finally reach agreement over water, sewer utility extension along south side of Route 33 West

BUCKHANNON – At long last, the City of Buckhannon and J.F. Allen Company have signed off on an agreement to extend water and sewer service along the south side of U.S. Route 33 West.

At Thursday’s Buckhannon City Council meeting, Mayor David McCauley announced the city’s Water Board and construction and building materials business had formalized the agreement earlier that day. It will extend water from J.F. Allen’s location to where the city’s water service ends near the Huddle House along the south side of Route 33 West.

In addition, the city’s Sanitary Sewer Board on Thursday also approved an agreement with J.F. Allen that would extend sewer service along the south side of Route 33 West. That agreement, however, has not yet been finalized.

“Perhaps like an epic motion picture, years in the making, I’m very pleased to report this evening that our city Water Board has reached a formal agreement with J.F. Allen Company to install water on the south side of U.S. Route 33,” McCauley said at Thursday’s meeting. “Additionally, our Sanitary Board just this afternoon approved entering into the sanitary sewer version of an agreement that is now in circulation, and I fully expect that second agreement will be executed in the coming days as well.”

As the mayor alluded to, the resolution comes after a months-long debate over which entity or entities would supply water and sanitary sewer service along the south sides of Route 33 West and sewer service along the north side of the highway – and ultimately, who would pay for it.

In late 2019, the Upshur County Commission approved a resolution that, pending the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s permission, would expand the boundaries of the Tennerton Public Service District, allowing it to serve commercial customers along Route 33 West.

In response, city officials vehemently defended what they say has been the city’s utility territory since the mid-1990s – and McCauley even suggested the city might take legal action to preserve its territory.

McCauley said the addition of water and sewer along the south side would open up the door for development.

“This concludes years of Buckhannon’s attempts to realize installation of utilities along Corridor H just to the west of our corporate limits,” McCauley said. “These utilities will open up opportunities for new developments along the south side of the highway. We believe these utility projects involving cooperative engineering, design, permitting, inspection and construction activities realizing project completion within three months.”

“We believe that the north and south side projects should essentially conclude the rancor with developers, public service districts and the county commission that arose in September of 2019,” he added. “It’s a good day for our entire Buckhannon-Upshur community, and we look forward to bringing these utility extensions on-line in the coming months.”

The agreements with J.F. Allen state that the company is responsible for building the lines in accordance with agreements reached with each utility board. (Water service has already been installed along the north side of Route 33 West).

“The Water and Sewer boards will make certain in-kind contributions and monetary contributions to part of the costs of the line extensions,” city attorney Tom O’Neill said following the meeting. O’Neill said he believed each board would contribute about $60,000 – a mix of cash and in-kind service donations to the project, which would then be deeded over to the city.

McCauley said city sewer crews plan to begin construction of the sanitary sewer line along the north side of Route 33 West within the next two weeks, which when completed, would add approximately 12 commercially developable tracts of land in Upshur County.

“We believe this project, designed and constructed by our city’s staff, will take three to four months to complete,” he said.

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