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Chamber to push Freeland sewer issue for merchants

The Freeland Chamber of Commerce has taken on the role as the mover and shaker in a sewer system in Freeland.

As the Freeland Sub-Area Plan, which includes a sewer plan, heads to Island County for approval, the chamber is working with the Freeland Water District and commercial property owners on some preliminary steps needed to form a utility local improvement district, or ULID, for the sewer system.

Specifically, several chamber members have begun polling Freeland business owners to find out whether they want to pursue what is termed a Phase 1 sewer for Freeland. Such a sewer system would serve just the downtown business core with sanitary sewers.

With any decision from the Island County Board of Commissioners on whether or not to approve Freeland’s plan on hold until January, Freeland Chamber members interested in the sewer issue are interested in making their research official. According to chamber director Chet Ross, the group’s work in the next few months may include forming a ULID. The chamber may also hire consultants to evaluate costs and benefits of installing a sewer system.

An engineering study recommends that any Freeland sewer system stare in the business core. Commercial property owners would shoulder a major portion of the upfront costs. In later years, neighboring residential areas would have the option of hooking into the system. The consulting firm that drafted the sewer plan for Island County estimates the cost of construction of a sewer plant at $8 million.

Ross said the plan supported by the chamber would not anticipate or require participation by property owners living outside the commercial area.

Before looking for grant money and low interest bonds to build a sewer, a sewer district must be established through the ULID process. A majority of property owners in the ULID boundaries would have to vote in favor of such action.

On Freeland business owner, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders’ Matt Nichols, said he supports a sewer system. Although his company’s septic system is in good working order, Nichols is willing to be a “big brother” to help push the project forward.

Nichols was responsible for bringing Freeland Water District lines down to his boatyard on Holmes Harbor, which allowed residents on Bercot Road access to Freeland water.

Another Freeland commercial property owner, Al Peyser, said he would support sewers in Freeland, but thought putting all the costs on Phase 1 property owners may be too expensive.

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