The town of Benton got a surprise Sept. 5 from 15 residents of the proposed Water District #1 expansion area. They submitted a petition which now requires the town to hold a permissive referendum for the project. This could have an impact in the Town of Torrey, where residents want to connect to the Benton system.

This is an extremely complicated proposal.

The expansion in Benton was initially voted down by residents, but then voted in when Angus Point Road was removed from the plan. The 36 remaining parcel owners, 17 of whom are not Yates County voters, approved the district by signature on a petition. 

In a permissive referendum, only the 19 registered Yates County voters may be allowed to vote on the matter. Benton Town Supervisor John Prendergast explains there is a possibility that state law will allow “personal registration” days in a defined period before the vote, but it is unclear who would qualify. Predergast hopes to schedule the vote for Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. He hopes to have answers from the town attorney soon. 

The objection of the 15 signers of the new petition rises from the increased construction estimate of over $1 million up from $709,000 quoted in the original bid. That is estimated to equal about $10 more per residence per month over the 38-year bond.

This throws up in the air the plans the Town of Torrey approved this year to connect to the end of the Benton water line to create their own first water district, using the well water from Kashong in the Town of Geneva. Residents in the second proposed Torrey water district on Perry Point also had hopes of tying in to the supply from Kashong after talks with the Village of Dresden broke down this summer.