GREENFIELD, Ind., Sept. 17, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NineStar Connect, a smart utility providing water, sewer, electric and high speed fiber services, announced several expansion plans for its water and sewer facilities in Hancock County, which already have attracted businesses and developers to the area. Click to Tweet.

NineStar’s wet utility improvements include:

  • The extension of water services between the GEM water plant and Hancock Health’s new campus at I-70 and Mt. Comfort Road. A new 500,000 gallon water tower will be built on the Hancock Health Gateway campus beginning this fall.
  • The construction of a wastewater treatment plant and water facility in Philadelphia, an unincorporated community in Sugar Creek Township on US 40. The facility has received regulatory approvals, and work will begin this fall.
  • The extension of sewer lines originating at NineStar’s Maxwell plant up SR 9 to 700 North and then east.

NineStar Connect completed its acquisition of GEM Water utility from the Town of Cumberland in January 2019. Since then the utility has made plans to double the capacity of the GEM facilities to keep pace with the residential and commercial growth that is planned over the next five years in the west-central portions of Hancock County.

“The mission of NineStar Connect is to deliver the utility infrastructure needed to enable well-planned economic development,” said Michael Burrow, president of NineStar Connect, which was a co-sponsor of the Urban Land Institute study of economic development in the Mount Comfort Corridor. Burrow noted that all new NineStar Connect water and sewer customers become members of the cooperative, and receive fiber to their premises.

Rural areas often struggle to attract economic development because of the lack of accessible water and sewer infrastructure. Since 75 percent of Hancock County is on septic systems, NineStar’s utility investments promise to meet the pent-up demand for home builders and businesses looking to locate in the area.

Examples of residential developments being built due to NineStar’s water and wastewater investments include two projects currently underway in Hancock County.

Sapphire Springs is a new 56-acre lakeside development of 33 high-end, custom homes surrounded by pasture and farmland in Greenfield. The land for Sapphire Springs was acquired almost 10 years ago by a developer, and it sat vacant for years because of the lack of sewer and water facilities. The owner planned to install a private sewage disposal plant on the property, which detracted from the aesthetic of the development and wasn’t economically feasible. Rick Anderson acquired the land in 2017 and took over the development. 

“NineStar came in and offered to extend a sewer line 2.5 miles from its new Maxwell plant, and this solved all our sewer issues,” said Anderson, noting that the availability of sewer services enabled him to re-plat the subdivision with 33 lots. Today, Anderson has sold 17 lots, and four houses are under construction.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without wet utilities from NineStar,” said Anderson. “What’s more, NineStar’s expansion opens up sewer services for even more economic development along the route.”

The Boulders at Sugar Creek, a new residential development on 200 West near Philadelphia, will soon have 30 custom homes on large lots with sidewalks, a common area, and a pond. The land for The Boulders was acquired nearly 15 years ago. Because the site didn’t have access to sewer and water, the developer, Philadelphia Estates (Prairie Pointe Enterprises, LLC), drafted plans and received IDEM permits for its own wastewater and drinking water treatment facility on 11 acres adjacent to the development. However, the recession presented serious difficulties getting the utility launched. NineStar Connect acquired the land and plans from Philadelphia Estates, LLC, and has begun construction on the Philadelphia water and wastewater facilities.

“The Boulders is unique for many reasons, chief among them is that we will get all our utilities from NineStar Connect, including water, sewer, electric, telephone, and high-speed fiber,” said Ray Easley of Accura Land Surveying and project manager for The Boulders. “Residents only have to deal with one utility. Furthermore, NineStar is a local cooperative whose board of directors and employees are our neighbors.”

The first 16 lots are near builder-ready. Joyner Homes will be the exclusive builder.

Expansion of NineStar’s wet utilities also prompted new commercial facilities in Maxwell for Smith Projects, a local construction company, and County Materials, a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality concrete and related construction products. County Materials’ new manufacturing plant employs approximately 80 full time people during peak season.

About NineStar Connect
NineStar Connect is a smart utility located in Hancock County, Ind. The only rural co-op in the United States to offer fiber optic, electricity, water and sewer services, NineStar Connect’s mission is to deliver the utility infrastructure needed to drive economic development and growth for rural communities. More information is available at www.ninestarconnect.com.

For information contact:

Linda Muskin, 847-432-7300
lmuskin@teamclarus.com

Mara Conklin, 847-816-9411
mconklin@teamclarus.com