Sewer Woes Slow Development

The sign says a new I-HOP is coming soon to Highway 49 south of I-10. But soon has been two years for owner Mike Khani.

"They told me the sewer system in the area would not support the project and I'd have to wait until July of 2002," Khani said.

Khani bought the property in 2000 and began paying taxes on it. A couple of months ago, the city gave him a building permit, with one condition.

"But not connect to the city until they finish their facility, and my understanding is they are building a lift station somewhere south of I-10. I told them, 'Let me start my project, and once you're finished by September and I'm finished at the same time we'll decide to hook the system up.' "

Khani says he watched other businesses north of the interstate open before he could even get started. The city engineer says the sewage capacity in several areas, like south of I-10, just can't handle more construction.

"There is a sewage lift station right off the Hudson's parking lot, and that is the one that's being renovated along with some new mains and other lines to gain capacity in that area," Bill Powell said.

Powell says the lift station should finished by October 1st, around the same time Khani plans to open. His contractor says delays are part of doing business, but sometimes at a high price.

"The cities have to have the infrastructure in place, but it's negative for contractors and developers wanting to come in here, because just as in Mike's case, he's sitting here and he's putting money into the property but he can't get anything back," contractor Jim Kyrisch said.

The city engineer says developers should do their homework on what areas have sewage problems before they commit to a project. Powell says the city tries to advise developers about which areas have the best sewage capacity for new projects.