"They had come to us to extend our sewer district to the senior development," Cunningham said. However, he said he stipulated the extensions "does not include water or sewer to the Sphere project."
Widrick told The Spotlight he asked Dolin about where water can be obtained. He said he petitioned Dolin to ask Cunningham, "informally" if Sphere could tap into the water supply.
Dolin, who has expressed opposition to the development, said he did not speak to Cunningham about the issue specifically and confirmed they talked about the proposed senior development using Bethlehem's water.
Cunningham said that although it is possible to provide municipal services to the Bender Melon site, the Sphere development is not the right fit for the area. He said, however, service lines are "close enough now for another development."
He said he's against service to the site primarily because of the residential resistance to the Sphere proposal, not because he's trying to guide development to Bethlehem.
"There's a real concern in the Town of Bethlehem over this proposal and how it could affect us," Cunningham said. "And there's a fear in New Scotland that we here in Bethlehem want to try to block this to bring more development over here."
Sphere said initially, plans to use Bethlehem's water were not included in the development, and a self-contained water supply is still an option. Widrick said, though, intensive studies about its viability would not be conducted unless the zoning law permits the development.
A local engineering and surveying expert, who didn't wish to be named because of current business dealings in the Capital District, said an on-site water and wastewater treatment might be slightly more expensive than a municipal connection.
However, he warned that there needs to be sufficient groundwater to build an adequate well or wells for hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail development.