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Lake Florida project gets the go-ahead from Kandiyohi County Commissioners

WILLMAR -- The final step for installing a sanitary sewer system around Lake Florida was taken Tuesday when the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners approved bids for the $4.2 million project.

When completed, sewage from about 200 homes on Lake Florida will be transported more than 12 miles to the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District treatment plant north of Green Lake.

Supporters said the system is necessary to preserve and improve the quality of Lake Florida, located in Lake Andrew Township.

GM Contracting Inc. of Lake Crystal will construct the low-pressure system and individual services around Lake Florida, for $2,685,567. That segment of the project will begin sometime in mid-July.

Duininck Bros. Construction of Prinsburg submitted the low bid of $1,549,160 for installing the force-main trunk lines and lift stations that will take sewage from Lake Florida to the existing sewer and water district lines near Spicer. Duininck Bros. could begin working in mid-June.

Initiated by the Lake Florida Improvement Association, the project had been discussed for several years but moved quite rapidly once the mechanical feasibility of the project was established.

Support has been nearly unanimous by the residents, but on Tuesday one homeowner expressed frustration that the Hidden Springs housing development will not have to pay the $7,200 base fee for constructing the common line that will go past every residence on the lake.

Hidden Springs installed its own cluster system several years ago and most of the residents there are either hooked into that system or have agreements to hook into it in the future when their septic systems fail.

Early in the planning process the Lake Florida Improvement Association said Hidden Springs would not be required to financially participate in the new project as long as they wouldn't object to the new project, said Ted Olson.

Marvin Melin said it wasn't fair that residents who live in the most expensive property on the lake 52 weeks a year will not have to pay the $7,200 for the project, but seasonal residents who are there eight weeks of the year will pay the price.

Melin said the new system is not just to move sewage but to preserve the water quality of Lake Florida. He said all the residents on the lake should support, and pay, for that. Melin said because the Hidden Springs residents are not paying for the project, even though the lines will go by their homes, everyone else on the lake will pay $1,000 more in assessments.

"You're not charging them. It's not fair," said Melin. "We all own the lake."

Besides the $7,200 for the common line, homeowners will also pay for individual service lines and grinder pumps for total assessments of $14,180.

Olson said Hidden Springs was proactive by installing the cluster system and not waiting for the rest of the lake to develop a project. He said homeowners there have already paid for a system that works well.

Melin said his septic system also works fine, but he supports the project and is willing to pay the fee because it will be good for the lake. He also questioned how well the cluster system was working.

Olson said if a last-minute change was made to assess Hidden Springs residents, the county would be unable to stand by its findings of fact that were stated in a resolution for approving the project.

The commissioners toyed with the idea of delaying a decision for two weeks so that a legal opinion could be provided on who can be assessed, but they eventually agreed not to include Hidden Springs.

However, the cluster system does operate under a county conditional use permit that's renewed every three years at the discretion of the County Board. That permit comes up for renewal in October.

The new trunk line from Lake Florida to Spicer will go by several other lakes, including Henderson Lake, George Lake and the west and south shores of Nest Lake.

Meetings with property owners on those lakes will be held later this summer to see if individuals there are interesting in hooking up to the system, which would help offset the cost of the trunk line.

The county will be paying most of the up-front cost of the trunk line, using a $1.2 million state Public Facilities Authority loan that doesn't have to be paid back for more than 20 years and has a zero percent interest rate.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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