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Disabled veteran loses thousands of dollars trying to build retirement home

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - A local disabled veteran says he has been given the run around by county officials and has lost thousands of dollars in the process.

Tom Meighan is trying to build a home to retire in. He began developing his property for a septic tank installation after he received a letter from Hamilton County's Water and Waste Water Treatment explaining his property did not have sewer availability. Meighan spent thousands of dollars even sold his home and put all of his belongings in storage only to find out months later, he must connect to a sewer line across the street.

"As a disabled veteran after all these years I had in the military, it hurts a lot," said Tom Meighan.

The Regional planning commission approved Tom Meighan's plans to subdivide his 5 acre property into 5 separate lots Monday January 12th. The approval letter stated his request would be approved subject to the following condition:

"Connecting the property to the existing public sanitary sewer line provided by Hamilton County WWTA. However, if this sewer line connection is not feasible, as supported by HCWWTA, then approval of the site for the use of septic tanks must be granted."

Meighan is trying to sell his current house and the remaining four acres, leaving him with one acre and room for a smaller house closer to Ootlewah-Ringgold Road.

"I just want to build a retirement home that's all my wife wants is to build a small retirement home so we can go out to do mission work for our church," said Mieghan.

Meighan says connecting to the County's existing Sewer line across the street would cost him nearly $40,000 dollars. The line would have to be ran underneath the highway. After receiving the letter from WWTA saying the property did not have sewer availability, Meighan started funding the development for a septic tank.

"It was a lengthy process we had to have soil scientists, Surveyors and on top of that had to do a new sewer line of the home... and we got permission to do all of these things," said Meighan.

$8-thousand dollars later Meighan says he was told he can't install a septic tank at all, instead he must connect to the sewer line that is across the street.

"It's not feasible or cost effective for us to do that," said Meighan.

Officials say defining what is or isn't a feasible cost to connect, is tricky.

"The state says if sewers are available to the property they have to connect to the sewers," says Cleveland Grimes, Executive Director of WWTA. "It's not up to me to determine what is feasible or not."

Channel 3 Eyewitness News asked Grimes about Department's letter stating the property did not have sewer availability in the first place.

"I tried to follow up on that letter but he obviously he didn't talk to me so you know that letter has no signature on it... so I don't know who sent that letter to him," said Grimes.

Meighan says the entire ordeal has put him in the hole financially. For a septic tank to be installed, we're told Meighan would have to contact State officials to challenge the law. Officials say if he were to develop his 5 acres into 5 separate lots, he would be required by law to make sure a sewer line is ran to each lot. Meighan says running a sewer line down his property line of 5 acres would cost an estimated $160 thousand dollars. He says it would also force other neighbors currently using septic tanks, to tap in on the available sewer line.

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