East Bethel allows septic system under road easement

The East Bethel City Council April 4 unanimously approved a license agreement that will allow property owners to put a septic system within an undeveloped street area by Coon Lake.

Douglas and Linda Foster were notified last summer that their septic system was not compliant because it did not meet current septic and well setback laws.

This would be no easy fix. They would need to utilize part of their neighbor Andrew Nelson’s property, but then a portion of another neighbor’s property owned by Richard Roback would have to be included. A platted, but undeveloped road easement called Sylvan Street is between the Nelson and Roback properties.

To solve the problem, the residents proposed installing part of a septic system under the Sylvan Street area.

Although the current council is allowing this for the time being, the license agreement clearly gives future councils a way to terminate the agreement.

If the council determines there is another use for this site that would be inconsistent with this septic system plan, if the street needs to be vacated, if Sylvan Street is developed or if a public sanitary sewer system they could hook onto is available, the council could terminate the agreement.

According to Councilmember Bill Boyer, it seemed like this could be an indefinite agreement.

City Attorney Mark Vierling said it could be, but the property owners developing the septic system would be the ones assuming the risk.

“It still comes down to a judgment call by the property owners in terms of whether or not they feel there is undue risk for them making that investment,” he said.

Councilmember Heidi Moegerle asked if the license agreement is specific to Nelson, who applied for it.

Vierling said that this license agreement would transfer to any person that owns the property where Nelson now lives, unless the council terminates the agreement according to the terms the city and Nelson agreed to.

Moegerle asked about what type of tree removal there could be.

Vierling said Nelson would work with city staff on this issue in case a tree needed to be removed within the Sylvan Street easement. This is not specifically discussed in the license agreement.

Nelson does not have authority to do anything but install the septic system and maintain it, he said.

Boyer asked Nelson if he talked with his neighbor about swapping land.

Nelson said it was fitting together a puzzle to get this to work and using the Sylvan Street easement was the best solution.

He had originally asked that the city vacate Sylvan Street to allow the septic system, but the majority of the council denied this request at the Dec. 21, 2011 meeting.

Boyer made the comment during that council meeting that this lake front property is valuable and he would not be serving the greater residents of East Bethel by giving it up.

Vierling had told the council that it could not legally vacate this easement.

Although Moegerle said she agreed the easement vacation should not be allowed, she voted against Councilmember Steve Voss’ motion to deny the vacation request because she felt the council should have tabled the matter to April rather than deny at the December 2011 meeting. Councilmember Robert DeRoche Jr. also opposed the vacation easement denial at the December meeting.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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