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Unpaid bills could lead to fire hydrants being shut off

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Feb 03 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 04 2013 05:35:04 PM CST

Fire hydrant service in one Berks County neighborhood could be extinguished.

WASHINGTON TWP., Pa. -

Fire hydrant service in the Meadowbrook development of homes in Washington Twp., Berks Co., could be extinguished.

In June, Superior Water Company built a water storage tank to service seven hydrants in the neighborhood.

Once it became operational, bill payments were not being met by the developer, Barto Mall Inc., said Louise Knight, chief operating officer, Superior Water Company.

According to Barto, however, it was not under contract to pay the bill. Superior then reached out to the township to see if it was the township's responsibility to pay the water bills.

"The township rightly says that the hydrants in this development are not public hydrants but are in fact private hydrants," said Knight.

Superior sought out the developer again, and the developer advised the company that the bills should be paid by the two homeowners' associations in the community, said Knight, who claimed Barto Mall Inc. then said to bill the charges to the single family home manager, Richard Mingey.

"At that point, we continued to bill him, however, we did not receive payments," said Knight.

In a statement, Mingey told 69 News that, "Superior Water Company should be directly charging its customers... as is customarily done by public utility companies."

Superior said hydrant bills have not been paid since August. It was not until residents received a letter from Superior that there was a problem.

"I don't know if it's miscommunication among the developer and the township... original promises made," said Elaine Chesler, resident.

A public information meeting will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the township building.

If the township finds it necessary to become involved, Meadowbrook residents could potentially see an additional tax placed on them, said Jason Ganster, the township's manager.

"If they say, 'Pay a tax,' I'll have to pay a tax, but I'm not happy about it," said Chesler.