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Growth end goal of sewer exchange

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More than 1,000 acres of land along State Road 135 in Greenwood will open up for development once the city finalizes a sewer service deal with Bargersville.

In court, Greenwood and Bargersville fought over land near State Road 135, with both wanting to annex land ripe for development in the unincorporated Center Grove area. The court battle went to the Indiana Supreme Court and ended in 2011. Now, each owns sections of sewer system within the other’s boundaries. The land war, as well as rules and expenses related to sewer service to the area, have hindered development there, officials have said.

Greenwood currently provides sewer service to two subdivisions and several businesses, including Tobacco Road, a Marsh store and Louie’s restaurant, within Bargersville. Bargersville’s sewer system in Greenwood serves Copper Chase apartments and residential health care facility The Hearth at Stones Crossing, which weren’t part of Greenwood until the court case ended and the city annexed the land.

Greenwood doesn’t let development hook on to Bargersville’s sewer system, even though it’s less expensive for homes and businesses to do so because the town has a sewer main nearby. But to allow for development, Greenwood is temporarily changing the rules.

The city and town agreed last week to swap sections of sewer pipes to allow coming projects, such as possible Franciscan Alliance medical offices and a Taco Bell restaurant, to hook up to Bargersville sewers. Right now, Greenwood doesn’t have a nearby sewer main for businesses to hook on to but plans to build one within the next several years.

Existing buildings Greenwood will get as customers include the Copper Chase apartments and The Hearth at Stones Crossing, but much of the land near State Road 135 and Stones Crossing Road is undeveloped.

In the meantime, Bargersville will offer sewer service to new customers that build in Greenwood so that new development can happen in the area. Bargersville should pick up the Greenwood customers within three or four months as part of the deal, city attorney Krista Taggart said.

Developers can’t build in the area without being able to offer sewer service, so the communities need the infrastructure in order for development to happen. The communities also earn income from sewer fees that customers, including residents and business owners, pay.

The swap will give Greenwood the pipes on the east side of State Road 135, and Bargersville gets the sewer lines currently within its town. Greenwood doesn’t yet have a sewer main in the area that can handle the sewage flow from the properties it will gain as customers, so Bargersville will continue providing sewer service there until the city builds the infrastructure it needs.

The city and town will take 30 days to inspect pipes, land and manholes and look at construction plans before closing on the deal, Bargersville Town Council President Ken Zumstein said.

The communities agreed last fall to negotiate so development could happen in the area and have been trying to work out a way to make the exchange as equal as they can so Bargersville would lose as little revenue as possible. The deal is of greater benefit to Greenwood, but Bargersville wants to improve its relationship with the city, town manager Kevin McGinnis has said.

Greenwood is gaining more paying customers from the apartments than Bargersville is getting from the businesses, homes and church. The city is letting Bargersville retain the customers on the Greenwood side and provide sewer service to them, as well as to any additional development in the area, for at least 12 months. If Greenwood builds a sewer main for the area before the year is up, then the city will pay Bargersville $8,200 per month until the 12-month period ends.

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