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Sewer solution inches closer at Halfway Tree

Sewer pipes and other construction material are staged at Halfway Tree Mobile Home Park. The park’s 113 residents will get sewer service by next summer, the park owner says. Sewer pipes and other construction material are staged at Halfway Tree Mobile Home Park. The park’s 113 residents will get sewer service by next summer, the park owner says.

Halfway Tree mobile home park residents are getting closer to having longstanding sewer problems behind them, although wet conditions and soil problems have delayed a new sewer line by months.

 

“The progress is a little slower than we would like,” park owner Tim J. Manson IV said recently. “I think a lot of residents were stuck in a pretty bad situation with the septic system going on for almost a decade. They seemed to be thrilled that someone is fixing this. I think it’s going to be a good thing.”
Manson’s company, Spartanburg-based MVF Halfway Tree, bought the 18-acre park for $3.3 million last May, agreeing to replace failing septic tanks with sewer service from the city of Hendersonville.
“We’re excited about it,” Manson said on the new acquisition for his company, which owns several other mobile home parks. “The property is fantastic. You’ve got some really cool old mobile homes that are not made anymore, if you’re into that sort of thing.”
Residents will see progress, he promised, once the larger line from Erkwood Drive to the park is finished.
“As we lay these lines, it’s not like all 113 homes go live,” he said, adding that the contractor could probably connect 15 homes a week.
The city of Hendersonville, Village of Flat Rock and Henderson County had all urged the state to force the previous park owner to fix the sewer problems.
The septic tank problems go back at least three years, when the park was owned by a Florida company, Upchurch Marina. State water quality regulators fined Upchurch $65,000 in July of 2019 after numerous reports of sewage overflow from the failing septic tank. When it bought the property last May, the new owner began work on connecting the 113 homes to the city sewer system.
“It’s been a little slow,” said David Dethero, a Flat Rock Village Council member whose home on Rutledge Drive abuts Halfway Tree. “They’ve run into some problems evidently. They said June possibly (for hookups). I am disappointed it’s not quicker. … I had 91 inches of rain at my house last year and there’s a lot of wetness there and the soil is some kind of problem.”
City Manager John Connet confirmed that the project had been delayed but was restarting.
“They’ll resume construction on the line that goes to Erkwood in the next 30 days or so,” he said. “They ran into bad soil and water so they had to do a redesign.” Instead of digging deep open trenches, the contractor will bore underground. “As they’re drilling they push pipe through,” Connet said.
The City Council is expected to take up a settlement on Feb. 4 of its condemnation case to obtain a sewer line easement through vacant land owned by Dr. Tom Eisenhauer. “We may have reached a settlement,” Connet said. “We’re very close to it. the council just have to approve it.”
Manson praised the city for its partnership.
“The city of Hendersonville and especially (city engineer) Brent Detwiler and John Connet have been just fantastic,” he said. “We work with a lot of municipalities across the Southeast and often the developer relationships are somewhat contentious. These guys have really got the city first in mind and they work to remove roadblocks and fix problems.”

Mixed reviews

A park resident who lives literally feet from the big dig, where construction crews are running the larger sewer line, said the noise is unbearable.
“They started eight feet from my head on Aug. 3,” said the resident, who did not want to give his name because the new owners “made a clause in their rules if you bad-mouth Halfway Tree you can be thrown out. “I wake up to dump trucks eight feet from my front window, ten bulldozers from my back window.”
Although the park owner is covering the cost of hooking up to homes, residents will have their service metered and will pay a water and sewer bill to the city of Hendersonville.
“Actually we’re paying for the water system, us — each one of us is paying an extra $100 a month to cover it,” the resident next to the construction site said.
Other residents welcome the sewer fix.
“I’m happy as can be,” said Ken Bruland, who was a high school Spanish teacher in Michigan before he became an ocean kayak instructor. “The sewer system here is just ridiculous. This park was built back in the ’60s and at that time it was a seasonal park only. So they put in like one septic system for three or four houses. They were sufficient until people living here year-round. The demand in these septic tanks is too much.
“They told us not too long ago we’d be hooked up by January. I knew that wasn’t going to happen and most other people knew that that wasn’t going to happen,” Bruland said. “If we’re hooked up by summer, I’ll be a happy camper.”
Dethero, who had raised concerns about the septic tank problems with the Village Council before he was elected, looks forward to the project completion.
“I have three streams going through my property and they’re all polluted so it would be very nice to get that settled.”