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Vote on Eastown agreement expected this month, but landowners worried about increase in their share

The beginning of the end is in sight for Eastown landowners in their quest to extend the city's sewer lines through their properties.  The Bonney Lake City Council is expected to vote this month on an agreement that could mean pipes will be in the ground by early next summer.

Landowners have been working with the city for several years to find a way to get pipes in the ground, which they say is hampering their attempts to sell their land to developers.

The city requires that any new development hook into the city's sewer system, but since there are no pipes in that section of the city, developers must also pay for the system to be installed.

The City Council has been pursuing a utility latecomers agreement with landowners in which the city would pay the majority of upfront costs of installing the system and developers would pay a fee as they connected.

Public Works Director Dan Grigsby presented the council with the final numbers for the agreement during the April 3 council workshop.

The landowners, who last year formed a limited liability corporation at the request of the council, which wanted a single entity with whom to partner, will be required to come up with $201,105, or 5 percent of the estimated total cost of $4,850,190.

"If you want that agreement, it's going to cost $201,105," Grigsby said. "Once we have that, away we go."

The 5 percent rate by the landowners is a minimum contribution allowed by city code. And according to Grigsby, the city has already spent $567,000 on design and planning just to get this far.

The amount from landowners is an increase from the $178,000 estimate from last year. Roger Watt, who owns Emerald Links Driving Range and acts as an unofficial spokesperson for the Eastown landowners, said he is worried about needing to try and wring more money out of the owners.

"That's going to be a bit of a challenge, I'm afraid," Watt said Thursday. "I wish I could say I'm optimistic, but I'm not.

"But I'm not pessimistic," he said, adding that it was still "progress in the right direction."

The money must be presented to the city within 30 days of passage of the ULA by the City Council, which is expected to come to a vote April 24. The majority of council members have expressed their support for the measure and it is expected to pass.

Grigsby said as latecomer fees are paid by developers who will hook into the system, each member of the Eastown LLC will receive $1,310 per acre back from the city to recoup their costs.

Grigsby said if the measure passes and the landowners provide a check, the city would get a revenue bond and then advertise for contracts for the project. If all goes right, Grigsby said construction could begin in January and could be completed by late spring or early summer 2013.

Watt said the he would meet with his fellow landowners before a scheduled meeting with Grigsby this week. After that, he said he hopes the end will be in sight because his group is "anxious" to get this going after being annexed into the city 10 years ago.

"Time will tell how well this goes," Watt said.

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