Source: Valley Roadrunner

More affordable sewer expansion paves the way for development

by Michael Crane and Lisa Rose

December 04, 2013

The future for economic expansion in Valley Center is looking bright this week. Thanks to more participation than originally expected, the South Village Wastewater Expansion Project is moving forward at an increasingly affordable rate.

“We have over 900 people seeking to participate in the project and that has brought the average EDU (residential and commercial units) cost to about $19,000,” said Gary Arant, general manager at the Valley Center Municipal Water District. Over the years, the cost per EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) has been discussed as high as $38,000, but with more interested parties, the burden can be shared without the cost of the expansion increasing dramatically.

Both the North and South Villages will be brought into the sewer expansion, and the project will make possible more residential and commercial development in the area.

According to Lael Montgomery, chair of the VC Design Review Board, proposed developments in the North Village include a grocery store, town center, and large drug store in the area behind the post office. Although many of these developments are 10, or even 20, years away, the sewer expansion is a crucial first step in that direction.

“The projects have been held up for lack of a sewer and it’s been a problem, but it’s also created an opportunity, in a sense. Not having a sewer is what has kept our town rural,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery says the board envisions an architectural design which would reflect Valley Center’s rural character — such as a drug store that looks like a barn — while shying away from typical suburban models. “We’re trying to get them to not impose their brand on Valley Center, but to get into the swing of our brand,” said Montgomery of possible developers.

There are at least a few weeks left for people to reserve EDUs, with the public hearing date scheduled for April 21. The project is moving forward thanks to a $13.4 million loan from the state, at a low interest rate of 2.2 percent.

“This is something we’ve been working on essentially since the Central Valley Sewer Project was defeated in a referendum by the voters back in 1988,” said Arant. “We think it’s very positive that we’ll be able to expand the plant and serve the intended land uses that are designated in the North and South Villages in the general plan for Valley Center.

“We expect to have the design complete and out to bid and under construction by June or July of 2014,” said Arant. “The project should be completed by late 2015 or early 2016.”