Bonney Lake council continues discussion of proposal for East Town septic systems
August 20, 2009 · 1:13 PM
Extending sewer lines to the East Town neighborhood was again a topic of discussion for the Bonney Lake City Council.
Council members, during an Aug. 18 workshop, discussed an ordinance that would allow the use of temporary commercial septic systems in lieu of connecting the city sewer system.
Under the city's municipal code, a connection to the sewer system is required whenever a new building is constructed or the use of the building is changed.
Councilman David Bowen said the proposed ordinance would give East Town property owner an option.
"At this time, they are being held hostage," Bowen said. "Their property is being held hostage also and cannot be sold or used for development."
Bowen said some land owners are frustrated because it is impractical to pay the cost necessary to provide sewer services to their East Town property.
"It makes the development of their property impossible," Bowen said. "It they could see light at the end of the tunnel, they may not as frustrated. They see no light at this time."
He added there is no certainty that sewer services will be expanded to East Town in 10 years.
Mayor Neil Johnson said the Public Works Department has begun crafting options for the property owners.
"We are working on three different options that could become part of the Latecomer's Agreement," Johnson said.
Johnson suggested a timeline is needed.
Councilman James Rackley said the most critical thing property owners need is a "believable" timeline.
Rackley said the council needs more information and must have some questions answered before making a decision, but suggested getting a timeline in place.
City Engineer John Woodcock said the Public Works Department must have resources in place to develop a timeline.
"We can give you a timeline, if we have the resources to do the work," Woodcock remarked.
"If they weren't going to move forward with this in the next couple of weeks, unless there is a clear timeline set by Nov. 1, I would ask if this gets voted up or down before November," Bowen said.
Public Works Director John Grigsby compiled a memorandum, detailing the pros and cons behind allowing temporary septic systems to be used by commercial development.
He listed some of the pros as:
• developers/builders do not need to wait until the city sewer system is extended to develop or sell their property.
• smaller property owners/developers avoid the high cost of extending the sewer system, even with a Latecomer's Agreement.
• a decision when to develop properties rests with the property owner.
• septic systems will be short-term facilities.
Some of Grigsby's cons were:
• the proposal would benefit only a few current owners, would impact development citywide and could defeat the planning efforts regarding how development is to occur within the city.
• the discharge from septic systems into the ground may contaminate underground aquifers. East Town is a sensitive area since it's the headwaters of Fennel Creek.
• utility lines would need to be built on a public or private road right-of-way. East Town property owners are unable to agree upon where frontage road would be built in the east-west direction.
• it's uncertain how long temporary septic systems will need to be used.
• businesses that were denied use of a septic system in the past could protest.
• increased expense in decommissioning septic systems and building connections the city sewer system.
Grigsby's memo noted that the city code would need to be modified to allow septic systems. He also suggested the developers/property owners be required to sign a binding legal document that they will connect to city sewer system.
Rackley said, after going over Grigsby's memo with the East Town property owners, he feels the property owner are looking to get the project going.
"If we could get the Latecomer's Agreement going they would be satisfied," Rackley said. "We need to get this agreement going."
Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said the council is not the only solution available.
Nothing prohibits all the East Town property owners from getting together and forming a plan to bring before the council, he said.
"We're not the only solution around, but we may be the better solution," Swatman noted.
Councilman Mark Hamilton agreed.
"For a bunch of citizens that is a task," Hamilton said. "Sometimes government has to take the lead."
Hamilton said because there are conflicting interests in East Town, it's hard to get all parties involved.
He said the council has committed to economic development and East Town is an important element in the city's future development.
The unresolved issue will be discussed at future workshops.