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Planning Commission adopts SSTS ordinance

Fri, Nov 29th, 2013
Posted in All Government

A public hearing regarding a proposed new Fillmore County Sub-Surface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) ordinance was held on November 21.

Zoning Administrator Chris Graves explained that the state requires the new ordinance to be in place by February 2014. The state has reviewed the proposed draft and approved it.

Graves commented on a couple portions of the ordinance. Alternative Local Standards (Section 5, 502) lists 10 Fillmore County townships where standards are detailed for Gray Water Systems meant to specifically serve the Amish community where their dwellings do not have an indoor toilet.

Also, new standards reduce the time allowed to fix a failed system from 18 months to 12 months.

Duane Bakke expressed concern about the considerable increase in “mound” systems. He said more analysis is necessary to make sure there is a need for a mound system. A mound system could cost a property owner $3,000 to $8,000 more than a conventional system.

Graves said they have to abide by state rules. Mike Frauenkron maintained that if an inspector comes in at the point of a sale for a compliance inspection, a conventional system could be found to be non-compliant. He agreed that there are more mound systems being put in. Bakke suggested that much is up to the current interpretation in St. Paul.

Frauenkron said he has been working in this area since the 1980s. He said since 1996 three feet of vertical separation (between the bottom soil infiltrative surface and the periodically saturated soil and/or bedrock) has been required. Bakke suggested a spot can just be the result of a decaying root.

Frauenkron said there is more of a problem with redox in the eastern portion of the county. A line can almost be drawn through Preston.

Phil Eickhoff was the only one present from the public to comment. He said he agreed with Bakke completely, adding, “If I don’t like it, I should do something about it.” Eickhoff suggested the fix needs to be done at the state level. Bakke maintained the state does a guidance document using the interpretation they want.

Gary Ruskell maintained we don’t have the right to change our ordinance, adding, “We can’t be less restrictive than the state.” Bakke agreed saying we don’t have much choice.

Eickhoff concurred that mound systems are being put in that are not needed. He opined that if 90 percent of the mound systems had been installed as conventional systems, there would not be an increase in pollution. He added that St. Paul is forcing systems to be designed that require mechanical maintenance.

The Planning Commission adopted the new ordinance while repealing Section 705. Graves noted the final version will now have to be sent to the state for approval.

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