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Commissioners table adoption of newest septic ordinance for Kandiyohi County; some will see significant financial savings

WILLMAR -- A new Kandiyohi County ordinance on septic systems that was planned to go into effect in May has been tabled for an undetermined amount of time.

The change will mean significant financial savings to some residents.

The county commissioners were expected to give final approve to the new ordinance Tuesday, following approval last week by the planning commission.

The proposed ordinance contained new state regulations that counties were required to adopt by February of 2010.

But Eric VanDyken, Kandiyohi County assistant zoning administrator, said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is now reconsidering one of the more restrictive, and expensive standards that deals with septic treatment systems located in sand or gravel.

The MPCA is considering a "major revision of standards" that would significantly change requirements for how individual sewage systems are installed in sand and gravel," County Attorney Boyd Beccue told the commissioners.

The new standards would "greatly increase the cost" to homeowners, Beccue said.

If the county went ahead and adopted the new ordinance now, homeowners would have to comply with the strict and expensive requirements, VanDyken said.

Then, if the MPCA does decide to withdraw the requirement, the county would have to write an entirely new ordinance and go through another hearing process.

It would also mean that, for a short time, anyone who installs a septic system in sand or gravel would have to meet the strict standards, but anyone before or after that, would not.

With the commissioner's decision to table the new ordinance, the county's existing ordinance will remain in place.

The commissioners also endorsed a position statement generated by the Association of Minnesota Counties that requests legislators to "fix" legislation they made last year that alters the "Green Ac-res" property tax program.

Green Ac-res was designed to preserve farm land by giving it protection from high property taxes brought on by neighboring development.

Changes made last year were creating record-keeping headaches for county assessors, would've resulted in property tax increases for landowners and would likely have made more farmland vulnerable to development.

The legislative fix proposed by Rep. Rod Skoe, DFL- Clearbrook, would eliminate the seven-year payback, allow owners to withdraw from the program without payback penalties, clarifies descriptions for eligible land and allows land to be transferred and to remain in the program.

In other news:

- The commissioners passed a resolution opposing Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "Human Services Authority Act" that would regionalize county human service departments.

- The commissioners approved a conditional use permit for Sandra Ryks to operate a home extended business in Green Lake Township but eliminated or revised conditions for parking and signs the planning commission had placed on the permit. Ryks intends to sell plants, fruits and vegetables from her home

- A grant application was approved that supports the Heartland Community Action Agency's funding request for its family homeless prevention and assistance program.

- The commissioners heard detailed reports on the "Parents Forever" program, childcare support services and the Central Minnesota Jobs and Training program. Randy Nelson, director of the Prairie Country Resource Conservation and Development area, gave a report on activities in the past year.

Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750