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SLC Public Hearing For New Septic System Ordinance Tuesday

Updated: 02/23/2014 10:47 PM
Created: 02/23/2014 8:10 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

If anyone knows what it's like to live in the country, it's Saint Louis Commissioner Keith Nelson.

"I live on a farm," Nelson said. "I have a well. I have a septic system."

For him, Ordinance 61 hits close to home. He's been working on the proposed ordinance for years. It would update the county's septic regulations. It would also require septic inspection if you're trying to sell your home.

"If their septic system is working properly, it's working properly," Nelson said. "They need to do nothing."

If it's not working, Nelson said it would have to be fixed before the sale or money would have to go into an escrow account to ensure the system gets fixed.

"This is about protecting the ground water," Nelson said. "It's about protecting our surface water. Rural residents get that."

One Duluth group is not on board.

"It's going to be a big burden on people who are buying and selling," Duluth Area Association of Realtors President-Elect Michelle Peterson said.

Peterson said the required inspection in the winter months will hurt the market.

"In this area, five or six months out of the year we are unable to test because of frozen soil conditions," Peterson said.

Peterson said people can't afford to wait until spring with money in an escrow account.

"It's a lot of money for people," Peterson said. "In a recovering housing market, to take a big portion of their equity, is really difficult for sellers."

Peterson said her team tried driving that point home with a phone-call campaign to county residents last week.

"The commissioners have said they have had hundreds of phone calls, which indicates that citizens are concerned," Peterson said.

Nelson said that campaign made many people confused.

"The information that is being disseminated is not necessarily accurate," Nelson said. "It's very concerning to me."

The ordinance only affects people not connected to city sewer lines. The public hearing for the ordinance will be Tuesday at 9:40 a.m. in the Hibbing City Council Chambers.

A vote may take place after the hearing. For more information on the ordinance, click here.

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