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Northeast side homeowners say they’re being forced to connect to sewer line

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Some residents on the city's northeast side said they're being forced to pay thousands of dollars after getting a letter from the Marion County Health Department. Homeowners were told they may have to hook up to a sewer line on their street and the price tag for the job is steep.

"We were kind of shocked," said Andy McNeilly, a homeowner.

It's been a stressful year for dozens of residents after they got a letter from the health department.

McNeilly and his neighbors found out they were going to have to eliminate their septic systems because another homeowner on the street paid for a public sewer line to run through their street.

"It was being forced on us basically," he said. "We were being told it was going to be $15,000 from day one."

That's the quote he said they're getting from contractors. It's money his family does not have.

"We have been trying to get our finances ready for retirement," said McNeilly.

His neighbor Steve Clark got the letter three weeks after he moved into the neighborhood. Citizens Energy Group maintains public sewers. They offer the Septic Tank Elimination Program which can reduce costs to nearly $3,000. A representative for the company said these homeowners do not qualify for it because this system was privately constructed. In addition, this neighborhood has not been identified by Citizens as a high-priority area and is not part of the current STEP program.

"It’s frustrating that they can’t see what they are doing is morally wrong," said Clark.

An ordinance was recently changed that will allow these homeowners to apply for a five-year extension but their system must work properly.

The health department admitted it's inevitable for septic systems to fail.

"Failing septic systems are a source of environmental pollution and we know when we get properties on failing septics that we do improve neighborhood health," said Jason Ravenscroft, a supervisor at the Marion County Health Department.

Ravenscroft believed they currently have 300 connection cases but some qualify for Citizens' program.

These homeowners do not mind getting rid of their septic systems. They just felt it's unfair that they cannot get assistance from Citizens.

Citizens and the health department plan to meet concerned homeowners during a meeting on Tuesday night.

A spokesperson for Citizens Energy Group sent us this statement:

Citizens Energy Group continues to work with the Marion County Health Department and the Greater Allisonville Community Council regarding the public sewer and septic systems in this area. Our attendance at tonight’s meeting continues our ongoing support of the neighborhood and will provide residents another opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.

The health department said homeowners will have to either hook up or apply for the extension by mid-May.

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