KEY LARGO -- The Coral Coast Homeowners Association and the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District are at odds over the terms of an agreement that would allow the district to install grinder pumps on their properties.
The group of about 15 mile marker 97, bayside, homes is among the district's "unique properties" that are not connected to the main treatment plant.
Instead of paying a plumber to run a sewer line on their property like those connected to the plant, Coral Coast homeowners are being asked to allow district contractors to install an alternative collection system in their yards.
At issue is language that would hold the district harmless for "any direct or indirect or consequential damage arising or resulting from any maintenance or repair procedure which the district has performed or failed to perform."
Both groups have turned the matter over to attorneys.
The dispute prompted Margaret Blank, the district's manager, to suggest Coral Coast residents should install their own onsite systems.
"We'd rather them not hook up," District Manager Margaret Blank said.
Installing their own "best available" system could cost homeowners more than the district's grinder pumps.
On the table for the group of homes is whether an easement agreement would be honored. The homeowners group says they want the district to follow the March 2012 agreement that places more responsibility on the district.
District Counsel Ray Giglio said the agreement was changed to limit the district's liability. However, he did say if a contractor hired by the district damages a person's property, then that contractor would be responsible
"If they don't fix it, then we won't pay them," board member Andy Tobin said.
In multiple meetings, Coral Coast resident John Hammerstrom argued the district wasn't treating the community fairly by changing the agreement and offering little explanation.
But, according to Blank, almost half of the residents in that community have already agreed to the updated language.
Those homeowners, though, didn't know what they were signing, according to Jose Jurido, president of the association.
Most of the wastewater board was sympathetic to the homeowner's concerns. Board members Norm Higgins and David Asdourian both said the first agreement should be honored by the district or staff should sit down with Coral Coast and put together a better agreement
The problem with changing the agreement for Coral Coast residents is about 50 owners of unique properties elsewhere in Key Largo have already returned the new agreements.
Both Blank and Giglio say the agreements need to be uniform for all residents.