Council advises neighbors to meet over septic problems

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Call it sewer district hot potato.

Two sets of neighbors along the 2300 block of Perryville Road, unable to come up with a compromise since November 2000, finally gave their problem to their city council.

And for the second time in two months, the city council handed the problem back to the neighbors.

The council, upon an agreement that the two parties will meet before the next council meeting, tabled the establishment of a sewer district Monday night, hoping that a compromise can be reached. The council spent about an hour hearing the arguments and discussing the topic Monday night.

Neighbors Ruth Ellen Holdman and Bob and Sharon McDowell have had septic problems for quite some time, and the problem escalated to the point more than a year ago when Holdman was ordered by the county's health department to take action to get the problem fixed. They say they need to be on city sewer.

Meanwhile, the septic tanks on the property of Norval Friese and Robert and Julie Pastrick are working fine, they say, and they do not think they should have to pay for someone else's problem. The project has been roughly estimated at $22,000.

Negotiating through the city -- the disagreeing neighbors have not met since January -- Friese and the Pastricks agreed to donate easement if they would not be included in the sewer district and thus not be assessed for the project.

Cost of hookup

Holdman complained her neighbors could one day hook up to the $22,000-sewer for a fee of just $750.

Mayor Jay Knudtson said he wanted the group to get together and see if a compromise could be reached, perhaps a settlement where, if the Pastricks or Friese one day connected to the sewer, they would have to pay back their share of the sewer cost.

Pastrick, Holdman and the McDowells said they would meet, but all parties appeared firm in their positions Monday night. Bob McDowell said he has a hard time understanding the opposing view.

"If I had neighbors who were in need and they came to me, I would help them," he said. "Plus, it only benefits their property."

Pastrick said he has helped his neighbors by agreeing to grant the easement.

"We're willing to go through the inconvenience of helping them solve it, but we don't want to pay for it," he said. "They have a hard stance on what they want, we have a hard stance on what we want, but I'm willing to meet."

City manager Michael Miller said the city could not allow sewage to spill on the properties for another year -- Holdman's sewage is running onto Friese's property -- the time it would take to declare condemnation of the opposing property owners and force them to be included in the sewer district.

Holdman said that she would have her septic periodically pumped as a temporary solution until the sewer was constructed.

335-6611, extension 127

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