MOREAU — The long effort to bring sewer to Route 9 finally succeeded this year with a narrowly tailored project focused on the commercial and vacant property on the main road.
In a public referendum on Aug. 27, the project passed by just three votes. More than 75 percent of eligible property owners voted.
The current plan is to begin construction in April 2020 and finish by Nov. 29, 2021.
Developers are already talking to property owners about selling their land. Many owners hold vacant land: Of the 535 acres in the sewer district, 240 acres are vacant. The sewer district doesn’t extend off Route 9 or include any residents, who said they don’t need sewer. That was the key to success after two larger districts failed to get approval.
Route 9 might look very different by the time the last property is hooked up to the new sewer line. Among the proposals being considered now are an office park and a large distribution center. Hudson Headwaters has already gotten town approval to build a medical office building on a vacant lot next to Dunkin’ Donuts and finished clearing the trees last week.
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Residents have focused their attention on a proposed distribution center. The property buyers won’t announce the company’s name publicly and have not yet finished negotiations on the sale. But Supervisor Todd Kusnierz is not concerned.
“If for some reason this project doesn’t come to fruition — and there’s no reason to think it won’t — I have full confidence there’s another project right behind it,” he said.
He added that the distribution center involves “big players, and they don’t do anything on a whim.”
The town received $4 million in grants for the sewer project and completed an income survey that showed the area is poor enough to qualify for a zero-interest loan. The project currently calls for $12 million to be borrowed and paid back over the course of 30 years by the property owners, but that might be less by the time the sewer is built.
Kusnierz plans to apply for a Regional Economic Development Council grant next year. The town wasn’t eligible to apply this year because the vote to approve the sewer district happened after the application deadline. The town is also in the running for a Community Development Block Grant, which will be announced next summer. Both would reduce the amount needed to borrow for the project.