The Oxford Area Sewer Authority (OASA) has approved the purchase of 100 acres of land, located in Lower Oxford Township, for the purposes of spray irrigation. During a special meeting held last Wednesday, OASA board members approved a $2.8 million land purchase, the payment for which will be spread over a 20-year period.

The land, located at 280 Union School Rd., consists of one 40-acre parcel and a separate 60-acre parcel, the owners of which are Barbara and Samuel Ross. The two will continue to live on another four-acre parcel of land at the same location, but will relinquish all rights to the remaining two parcels of property to the OASA for the purpose of effluent spray irrigation.

"Everything went according to plan," said Edward Lennex, executive director for the OASA. "We are happy we were able to finalize the purchase at the meeting."

According to the information provided to the public during last week's meeting, the $2.8 million in payments will be spread over a 20-year period at an interest rate of 5.5 percent. The OASA has agreed to pay the first two years of the agreement upfront at a cost of just over $400,000. Two years from the time that payment is made, the OASA will be responsible for paying equal monthly installments of $19,260 during the remaining 18 years of the sale agreement. During that time the OASA is responsible for all of the taxes on the property, as well as liability for all of the operations on the property.

According to Lennex, the Authority wanted to finance the property over a long period of time to avoid having to finance the large upfront cost of fitting the bill for the immediate purchase of the entire 100 acres. Purchasing the land outright would most likely lead to rate increases for current users.

Now that the board has agreed to purchase the land, the next step for the OASA is to construct spray fields, which will help increase sewer capacity throughout the Authority's service area, which consists of the Borough of Oxford, East Nottingham, West Nottingham and Lower Oxford.

Engineers have already begun testing the site, and Lennex believes that within 12 months spray fields should be operating on the newly acquired land. This will allow the OASA to not only expand its capacity, but also alleviate some of the strain placed on its current spray fields.

Currently the OASA is not operating within the specifications set forth by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The addition of more spray fields, as well as another sewage treatment lagoon, would allow them to come back into compliance with DEP, thus avoiding steep fines and other legal ramifications.

Lennex feels that with the current planning underway for a new lagoon, along with the addition of the new spray fields, the Authority's moratorium should be lifted before the spring of 2007.

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