CHESHIRE -- Engineers hope to have a 15,000 gallon septic tank installed in Pine Valley Mobile Home Park next week following a month-long work stoppage.
Morgan Management, owner of Pine Valley, has been working under the eye of the state Department of Environmental Protection to replace a septic system for more than 30 mobile home units.
Morgan Management hopes to win town approval for a $38.27, or 15 percent, increase in rent to offset the cost of the new septic system. Rent in Pine Valley is controlled by the town Board of Selectmen.
The project was originally slated to be complete by Sept. 15, but ran into problems when engineers found the soil beneath the ground was a "river of clay."
The unexpected soil conditions will cost Morgan Management close to an additional $200,000.
In an Oct. 9 public hearing, Morgan Management Attorney Robert Kraus told the board that he was "not aware" of any indications the project would exceed its original budget of $419,000.
Cheshire Selectman Carol Francesconi said any over-budget spending on the project does not impact the board's decision on a rent increase.
"Our decision will be based on the figures submitted by Morgan Management of $419,000," Francesconi said.
According to Project Manager Justin DaMore, owner of Meyers Environmental, the cost of the septic installation is now "well over half a million and still going.
Brian Dibble, a Morgan Management regional manager, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
The system being installed is "revolutionary," DaMore said, and closely resembles a water treatment facility.
To account for loose, wet soil, a 15,000-gallon septic tank will have to be secured in a fashion similar to the way support beams for a bridge are secured.
DaMore said he called construction to a halt about four weeks ago "for the right reasons."
"We were losing the road [due to the soil]," he said. Ensuring the footing of the tank will increase its lifespan, DaMore added.
Morgan Management brought in a number of engineers to assess the situation, according to DaMore.
Morgan Management is waiting on bank approval of the additional funding before it continues the project, but the tank is on-site.
DaMore told the DEP in an Oct. 10 email "work is progressing every day at Pine Valley," after a DEP official inquired about the status of the project. DaMore did not provide a specific date for the completion of the project. Blacktop repair will be required following the installation of the tank.
The proposed rent increase has been vehemently opposed by the Pine Valley Tenants Association, which argues that a septic replacement does not justify a rent increase under state law.
The board gave Morgan Management and the tenants association until Wednesday night to file any final arguments. The Selectmen will then issue a decision within 21 days.
Either party can appeal the board's decision to the state trial court.
The Board of Selectmen met in executive session Tuesday to discuss possible future litigation related to the Rent Control decision.
To reach Adam Shanks,