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Potsdam property owner seeks annexation after five-year well water struggle

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POTSDAM — A property owner’s five-year battle to save his tainted well water has ended in defeat.

Lloyd Vienneau, owner of Country Lane Apartments, has applied for annexation into the village.

In 2008, his tenants complained of blasting done by the Lowe’s hardware store being built next door. The explosions were so powerful, according to Mr. Vienneau, that dishes broke in their cabinets. It wasn’t long before the well water at the apartments became contaminated by manganese, a common metal.

Mr. Vienneau requested water service from the village, but was denied at the time and told that if he wanted to receive village services he would have to have his property annexed into the village.

In the five years since, Mr. Vienneau has done everything he can think of to bring his water back up to drinkable levels. He has spent thousands of dollars on filtration systems and dug two new wells, to no avail. He has spent $12,000 in an attempt to take Lowe’s to court, with nothing to show for it.

His tenants stockpile bottled water for the next time the filtration systems inevitably fail. Two have left the complex, and more are on their way out the door, he said. He finally has decided that annexation is his best and only option.

“It’s a hardship case, because I can’t tough it anymore,” he told the town board last week.

If both the town and the village approve the annexation, the village limits will expand to include Mr. Vienneau’s property. He then will be subject to the village’s higher tax rate, but will be able to receive water and sewer service.

“I’m asking for your help,” Mr. Vienneau told the town.

The town and village will meet to discuss the matter at 4 p.m. today.

Town officials are usually reluctant to approve annexation requests, but Supervisor Marie C. Regan said she thinks this case will pass through easily because of Mr. Vienneau’s difficulties.

Mr. Vienneau said the higher taxes will force him to raise rents, but it is better than the alternative.

“The culprit has been Lowe’s. There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said.

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