Upshur County Commission approves order proposing Tennerton PSD expansion

A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 9, 2020

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A map of the existing and proposed new boundaries of the Tennerton PSD's service area.

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Thursday approved an order proposing the expansion of the Tennerton Public Service District’s sanitary sewer service area.

The commission approved the order at the Dec. 5 Upshur County Commission meeting and set a date for a public hearing on the proposed expansion of the boundaries of the Tennerton PSD; that public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 9, 2020 in the Circuit Courtroom in the Upshur County Courthouse. The commission also provided maps at the meeting to show the proposed expansion area.

Commission President Sam Nolte said the public forum is needed in order to hear the public’s opinion on the expansion.

“I think it’s necessary in this situation because you want to hear from people, especially if Tennerton is going to do the work,” Nolte said. “You would want to make sure that the current Tennerton PSD customers are okay with the expansion and the possible rate increase on their bill.”

According to a previous story, the Thrasher Group, the engineering firm the Tennerton PSD hired to design the line, said extending the sanitary sewer line along the north side of Route 33 from the West Virginia Farm Bureau building to the Lewis-Upshur County line would cost just over $4.8 million.

Proposed funding would include a $980,000 grant and a $2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; additional funding would come from a $790,000 grant and a $1 million loan from the state Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.

If ultimately approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the boundary extension would result in a 25 percent rate increase for all Tennerton PSD customers, a Thrasher official said at the commission’s Oct. 31 meeting on the matter.

He also said moving forward with the public forum will not impact the project being discussed by the City of Buckhannon’s Sanitary Sewer Department on the south side.

“We’re moving forward with the public meeting because according to our attorneys, it still doesn’t prevent the city from moving forward because I know that they’re close, possibly with negotiations with some contractors on the south side, and that shouldn’t delay that if they are able to come to terms with the proposed project on the south side,” Nolte said.

At meeting in late November, the City of Buckhannon’s Sanitary Board discussed a possible agreement with commercial entities, including J.F. Allen Company, that Mayor David McCauley said involved installing sanitary sewer service along the north and south sides of Route 33 West and water service along the south side. (Read that story here.)

Commissioner Terry Cutright said he hopes expanding Tennerton PSD’s service area will provide more options.

“The only thing I have to say is by expanding Tennerton’s service area, it just to offers options and other avenues to put the sewers in,” Cutright said. “We’re not taking anything away from anybody. [Tennerton PSD] just can’t give the service if we don’t extend their service territory.”

Cutright made a motion to approve the order, and Commissioner Kristie Tenney seconded the motion, which passed.