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New Septic Rules Approved By Board After Debate With Realtors

Updated: 02/25/2014 10:37 PM
Created: 02/25/2014 6:15 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

The Saint Louis County Board drew quite the crowd Tuesday in Hibbing. Many realtors were there because they said a piece of the housing market was on the line.

"It seems like a waste of time, energy and headache to penalize buyers from purchasing a property they've fallen in love with because of an escrow ordinance," realtor and contractor Dan Traylor said.

Ordinance 61 will update septic system regulations. It passed with a vote of 5 to 1. Commissioner Chris Dahlberg voted no and Commissioner Pete Stauber wasn't there.

A majority of the ordinance received no backlash, but there was one sticking point.

"Our biggest concern was with the escrow requirement," DAAR President Sarah Wisdorf said.

Under the ordinance, if you have a failing septic system and you're trying to sell your home you need to fix the system or set the money aside in an escrow account. The escrow account is also required if you have working system older than ten years, but can't test it and want to sell.

"Inspections can not be performed in this area year round because of frozen groundwater conditions," realtor Sherri Puckett said.

Despite the debate, Ordinance 61 got the green light. Commissioners in favor said it boiled down to protecting our water.

"We really want to protect the groundwater," Board Chair Mike Forsman said. "Groundwater isn't just where the lakes and rivers are; groundwater is everywhere."

Forsman said the escrow requirement at point of sale is key.

"This is the time to try to get the dollars out there to get the system fixed," Forsman said.

While the new septic system rules passed Tuesday, commissioners emphasized it's a living document. In a year, it will be reviewed to make sure it's working.

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