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Local News

December 8, 2012

Town to vote on watershed law

The Oneonta Town Board is poised to enact an ordinance to protect the watershed that provides water to the city and some town residents.

The town board will have a public hearing about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to vote on the ordinance during that meeting, Supervisor Robert Wood said. The hearing will be an opportunity for speakers to support the ordinance or raise concerns about it, he said.

The proposed Watershed Protection Overlay District has been in the works about 18 months.

Residents speaking during a meeting in March cited about 15 concerns regarding the measure, such as the fate of septic systems in the district and the size of developable lots, Wood said Wednesday, and the proposed ordinance has addressed those issues.

Existing septic systems would be allowed to remain in place and replaced in accordance with the regulations, the proposal said. The new ordinance would affect new subdivisions of property and new property developments but not apply in cases of new owners of existing properties, said Wood, a member of the panel that developed the proposed ordinance.

The goal of the proposed district is to promote the health and safety of the community by protecting existing sources of public drinking water. All proposed development, such as construction or new land use, within the district would have to show that it wouldn’t harm reservoir quality and quantity.

According to the pending legislation, the town of Oneonta areas to be protected include Wilber Lake and its tributaries, the lower reservoir and its tributaries, the Woodland Water District wellheads, the Oneonta city’s wellhead on county Route 8 and the city’s Webb Island wellheads.

The watershed district addressed is mostly in the northern part of the town, Wood said, and about 20 percent of the people served by the city’s water system are in the town.

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