Coventry legislators ask Town Council to reconsider sewer ordinance

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – Multiple Coventry legislators are asking the Town Council to reconsider a sewer ordinance that residents are concerned about.

The concerns focus on the construction of new sewer lines across the town. Residents who live in sections where sewers were expanded will now pay for tie-in fees, use fees and assessment fees, regardless of whether they have a compliant septic system.

“One also must question the wisdom of mandating an expense, which may amount to 20 percent of the assessed value of one’s home, for which there is no real benefit to those residents with fully compliant septic systems,” Rep. Jared Nunes wrote in a letter to the Coventry Town Council. “There are the costs of assessments, tie-in fees and use fees that will be pushed upon residents that are already stressed due to high taxes and a high cost of living.”

The letter asks Town council to reconsider the sewer expansion project, pending a town wide referendum asking the residents if it is something they truly want to pursue.

Nearly 500 residents of Coventry signed a petition online requesting the Town Council halt all sewer projects until Town Administrators provide all residents with estimated costs to each homeowner and all the rules, regulations and requirements of all residents. The petition also calls for Town Council to hold a town-wide vote that allows each resident to choose to approve or deny the sewer projects.

“The exorbitant fees being charged by Coventry are completely unjustifiable,” said Senator Leonidas Raptakis. “No homeowner should be forced to tie into a new sewer line until the house and sold, and they certainly shouldn’t be charged any assessments until they are actually tied in to the sewers. I’m very dismayed by the procedures of last Monday’s Town Council meeting and many answers were not forthcoming to the residents affected by the sewer project.”

The delegation plans to introduce the legislation in January that would address the sewer ordinance at the point of sale of a home, as opposed to forcing a mandate on residents.

“I’ve heard many complaints from my constituents, among them average working families, seniors and those living on limited income, who say they simply cannot afford this unnecessary expense,” said Representative Sherry Roberts. “We must find a better way.”

Raptakis said he will introduce the legislation that caps what Coventry charges residents to align with the interest rate the town is paying on sewer construction bonds.

“This should not be a money-making scheme for the town,” said Raptakis. “We want to make sure this is fair to homeowners and that no undue burden is being placed on those who are affected by the sewer expansion project. It’s unjustifiable that the homeowner be charged twice the percentage the town is being charged as a rate for the sewer construction project loan or bond.”

Among the legislators who proposed Town Council to reconsider the ordinance are Senator Raptakis, Rep. Nunes, Rep. Roberts, Sen. Nicholas Kettle, Rep. Patricia Morgan, Rep. Patricia Serpa and Rep. Mark Chippendale.