A city purchase of property along Creasy Springs Road holds the promise of addressing a long-standing problem with a private sewer lagoon and allowing city and county government to eliminate a treacherous curve between Obermiller Road and Bear Creek.
The land, which Harold and Jane Foley have owned for nearly 60 years, is on a steep and rocky hill at 3545 Creasy Springs Road and has two homes on it. The Columbia City Council directed the city staff to draft an ordinance to buy the property. The amount of the city offer won’t be released until after the transaction is closed.
There are no definitive plans for when the city and county might straighten the road. But buying the land now would eliminate the need for the Foleys to spend tens of thousands of dollars to fix a troublesome sewer lagoon, which is allowing effluent to seep onto nearby property.
Jane Foley said the lagoon has been in the same spot for about 45 years, but development has encroached.
“In the course of time, the road widened, which put the lagoon closer to the road,” Foley said.
Gerry Worley, environmental health manager of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health, said the only solution to the Foleys’ sewer problem would be to connect to the city sewer line.
“If the Foleys decided to come onto the city system, it would be up to them to contract it out,” said Wendy Lister, property acquisitions manager for the city. That would require the Foleys to bore under Creasy Springs Road to connect to the sewer line on the east side of the street.
Worley said that if the Foleys were to decline a city offer to buy their land, the health department probably would have to refer the sewer issue to a prosecutor. The Foleys, however, are OK with the idea of selling their land.
“The threat of prosecution shouldn’t be leverage in the sale, but the issue of the failing sewer system and the enforcement of it has been held up because the purchase of the property is in the pipeline,” Worley said.
“Under state law, you cannot let your sewage run over on a person who doesn’t want it there,” Worley said. They are holding off on forwarding the case until the plans for acquisition have been worked out.”
The city originally proposed buying only a strip of right of way from the Foleys to straighten Creasy Springs Road through the western edge of their property.
“I told them we would rather not live squished up between two arteries,” Jane Foley said. She added that they understand the necessity of the sale, which will accommodate growth and increasing traffic. Traffic counts by the Boone County Public Works Department show an average of nearly 3,500 cars drive Creasy Springs south of Brown School Road every day.
“The real problem is that we’re in the way of progress,” Foley said. “Change happens.”