[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of Talbot County 7-11-2000 by Bill No. 766. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A sanitary sewer construction district may be created through County Council legislative action in response to a written petition from at least 2/3 of the owners whose property is proposed to be included in the district. Each parcel or lot shall have a single vote and shall be assessed a separate pro rata share of the cost, which shall become a benefit assessment against the parcel or lot. The petition shall include an agreed upon pro rata distribution among the petitioners of all costs incurred to develop construction cost estimates, and a proposed pro rata distribution of all costs among the property owners in the event the district is established. All proposed sanitary sewer construction districts shall be consistent with County planning policies set forth in the current edition of the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan.
A sanitary sewer construction district may not be created unless adequate properties, rights-of-way and easements are available to accommodate the proposed construction; and sufficient sewage treatment capacity exists to accommodate the increased flows from the project. Acquisition of all necessary property rights or interests shall be the responsibility of the district, or shall be at the expense of the district if the County agrees to acquire them. Identification of all property, the nature and extent of the interest proposed to be acquired, and a verification of petitioner's ability to acquire the properties shall be submitted with the petition to establish the district. Nothing in this chapter shall limit the County Council's authority to acquire necessary property rights by condemnation.
A sanitary sewer construction district ordinance shall designate the area to be included within the district and shall authorize the County Engineer to administer, supervise, or monitor sanitary sewer and facilities construction and related activities. The ordinance shall also include the pro rata distribution of all costs among the property owners in the district. The program shall be developed in accordance with the provisions of a sanitary sewer construction or public works agreement between the County and the authorized representative of the sanitary sewer construction district, including, but not limited to, the following options:
Utilization of County resources for necessary engineering, design, construction, inspection, and management services;
Solicitation, by the County, of necessary engineering, design, construction, and inspection services, and management of the contracts by the County;
Solicitation, by the petitioners requesting the district, of necessary engineering, design, construction, inspection, and management services, under the supervision and approval of the County.
All costs incurred by the County in the development of the project, including administrative costs, legal fees, and financing costs, shall be reimbursed to the County in accordance with the pro rata distribution proposed in the petition by the property owners proposing or comprising the sanitary sewer construction district. All costs incurred by the property owners in the development of the project, including feasibility studies and design costs, shall be borne directly by the property owners but may be included in the overall project financing if the sanitary construction district is approved. The County may establish a predevelopment improvement fund, wherein benefit assessments are charged and funds accrued before incurring costs, or create a post-development benefit assessment of lump sum or amortized costs, at such rate and term as authorized by the County Council.
At such point, prior to construction, that the costs of the project can be reasonably estimated, the County Council shall conduct a public meeting, of which all property owners in the sanitary sewer construction district shall be notified in writing and which shall be publicly advertised for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the County. At the meeting, the property owners shall be advised of the costs of the development and shall indicate, based on a majority consensus, whether the project should proceed. After conducting the meeting and receiving public comments and the recommendations of the County Engineer and other reviewing County officials, the Council shall determine whether or not to proceed with the proposed project.
Upon approval of the costs and authorization by the County Council, the County Council shall delineate the sanitary sewer construction district boundaries. All properties within the sanitary sewer construction district boundaries will be required to participate in the project. The project shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of the executed sanitary sewer construction or public works agreement, which shall include a maximum time period for project completion, transfer provisions for all properties, rights, and interests necessary for the project, and benefit assessments to each property in accordance with the pro rata distribution proposed in the petition. If the project is not completed as specified, any newly acquired properties shall be returned to their former owners and any easements or rights-of-way associated with the project shall be released to the source properties.
If the project is financed by the County, benefit assessments shall be levied by the County upon all real property in the sanitary sewer construction district. The benefit charge shall be sufficient to reimburse the County for all costs incurred for the project, including the principle and interest payments on any debt created by the County to finance the costs of the project. Benefit assessments shall be prorated according to current property value assessments, or alternate cost-sharing arrangement approved by the County Council, for all properties included in the sanitary sewer construction district. The benefit assessment shall be a lien upon the real property against which it is assessed. Its duration and amount shall be recorded in the land records of Talbot County, and it shall be collectible in the same manner as real estate taxes assessed against the property. Failure to record the benefit assessment among the land records shall not affect its validity or enforceability.
Upon satisfactory completion and acceptance of the project, including execution and recordation of all deeds or other instruments necessary to transfer all property interests required for the construction, repair, and maintenance of the system, it shall be incorporated into and become part of the public sanitary sewer system owned by the County. At such time the County shall assume full responsibility for maintenance and repair of the system except to the extent any sanitary sewer construction agreement provides otherwise.
The County may construct, extend, modify, or upgrade any public sanitary sewer or related facility without establishing a sanitary sewer construction district if the County Council considers such action necessary or proper to promote the public heath, safety, or welfare.
The County Engineer shall have the authority to negotiate, execute, modify, and administer sanitary sewer construction agreements on behalf of the County. The County Engineer shall not execute a sanitary sewer construction agreement until all applicable fees, assessments, or special charges which are due and payable have been paid.
The design, construction, inspection, testing, acceptance, warranty, transfer, and maintenance of public sanitary sewers and related facilities shall proceed in accordance with the terms and provisions of a sanitary sewer construction agreement between the County and the developer or sanitary sewer construction district. The agreement shall contain provisions for planning, administration, design, development, materials, construction, testing, inspection, approval, acceptance, transfer, warranty, and maintenance of the sanitary sewer facilities and related facilities. The agreement shall also include specific provisions for the settlement of disagreements and disputes during the course of the construction so that suitable and timely remedies are available without undue delay, expense, or hardship to the County, the developer, or the district.
All work shall be performed in accordance with applicable requirements pertaining to wetland certifications, critical habitat restrictions, sediment and erosion control, woodland and forest preservation, shoreline protection, stormwater management, utility location and protection, tributary stream and floodplain buffer zones or special use areas, SHA and County right-of-way uses and accesses, construction or building codes, special restrictions, planning coordination, impact considerations, and any other applicable federal, state or local regulations.
All sanitary sewer construction agreements shall include provisions for insurance, funding, performance bonding, and maintenance bonding to assure that the work is completed and protected in accordance with the specifications. In the event of default by the party performing or responsible for the work, the agreement shall assign to the County the right of access to the reserved funds or assets needed to complete the project.
No subdivision plat creating new lots or parcels for any project which includes construction of sanitary sewer facilities shall be recorded without the execution of a sanitary sewer construction agreement. The County may pursue any available remedy for failure to comply with the terms of the agreement, including but not limited to withholding of building permits, disallowance of hook-up, or nonissuance of certificates of occupancy.