Construction of new Camden water tower halted

CAMDEN — The new water tower on Upper King Road was supposed to be functional by summer, but a dispute between the town of Camden and Camden-Wyoming Sewer and Water Authority has put a halt to the project.

The new tank, located near the Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School, is the third in Camden and Wyoming and was close to being completed until a stop-work order was placed on the tower earlier this month.

The notice was issued by the town of Camden for not receiving $27,000 of associated fees for a building permit.

“We let the CWSWA build the water tower without a building permit until we determined the fees for it,” said Craig T. Eliassen, the town’s solicitor. “Once we determined a price we held several hearings on it and reduced the cost by 70 percent as the original price was about $90,000.

The water tower on Upper King Road in Camden was supposed to be completed by late summer but work has stopped after a dispute over fees. (Delaware State News/K.I. White)

The water tower on Upper King Road in Camden was supposed to be completed by late summer but work has stopped after a dispute over fees. (Delaware State News/K.I. White)

“When we gave them the number regarding the fees they felt they weren’t responsible for it and refused to pay it,” he said.

During a town council meeting last year a motion was made to charge the CWSWA a permit fee of $27,000 for the proposed water tower.

The vote passed 3-1 with one abstention.

But Michael Quinn, chairperson of the CWSWA board of directors, said there weren’t any other invoices sent out about the fees, which is why he believes they shouldn’t be responsible to pay it.

“Nothing was sent out to us,” Mr. Quinn said. “There was no prior assessment. Everything was expressed verbally and that’s not binding if nothing was in writing.

“They came up with a number and thought they were going to levy that against us,” he said.

“We took a loan out for $2 million for this project. The money for this project is borrowed.

“We don’t have that in our budget,” he said, referring to the $27,000 requested fees.

Camden’s population increased by almost 65 percent and Wyoming’s increased by 15 percent between 2000 and 2010, which was the reason behind the new water tower.

“It will guarantee an adequate water supply for the future,” Mr. Quinn said.

Mr. Eliassen said the CWSWA has to pay permit fees like everyone else.

“We have a legitimate fee to collect,” Mr. Eliassen said. “We plan to collect the fees because that’s what we’re supposed to do. The ball is in their court.”

Mr. Quinn said the CWSWA plans to sue the town of Camden to hopefully resolve the issue.

“We’re going to court to figure it out,” he said. “We need a third party to determine what’s going to be done and whether we owe money or not.

“If we voted to refuse to pay it the town will still insist on charging us, so we’re in a pickle and we need a court to determine who is right.”

He hopes the process doesn’t take too long because the tower still needs to be painted and sanitized.

“We can’t work without that building permit,” Mr. Quinn said. “We need to get this work order lifted because we don’t want the tower to rust.

“We still have to paint the building and sanitize it. We’re hoping everything goes our way and we can get this up and running by the end of the summer.”

The tank is designed to hold 1 million gallons of water and costs about $3 million, the sewer and water authority told the Delaware State News in January.

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