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BAXTER CITY COUNCIL: Requirements eased

BAXTER — The construction of houses on vacant lots of record in Baxter can now be built with septic systems and water wells where city water and sewer are not yet available. 

The ordinance amendment, approved unanimously Tuesday by the Baxter City Council, stemmed from the council’s April 5 decision to update the capital improvement plan map by removing proposed dates for water and sewer projects. Instead of dates, priority areas — ranging from earliest area of consideration to later area of consideration — have been identified on the map. The idea for that change was because the city couldn’t guarantee the dates for services. 

Other requirements include installing septic systems and water wells on the same side of the property where future city services are anticipated or, if unable to do that, having the pipes for future services installed.

New single-family residential plats would require connections to city sewer and water. Also, a petition of at least 75 percent of all landowners in the project area can be submitted by Dec. 31 for consideration by the council, or the council may initiate the improvement in cases where the project would address a critical need or economic development project. 

Tim Quincer, a resident on River Vista Drive, told the council he had a couple of issues. He said his neighborhood was scheduled for water and sewer in 2004 or 2005 and he’s been waiting on replacing appliances, some now clogged because of hard water from his well, until the project comes through. 

The concern, Quincer said, was that homeowners with older houses with wells and septic systems could suffer while owners of newer homes might balk at signing a petition for services. 

He also hoped the council would clarify that the ordinance change wasn’t permanent — that if the economy improves the city could return to the old improvement map. 

“As I dug into this issue I realize the city is between a rock and a hard place, so I sympathize with your plight,” Quincer said. “...(But) I don’t like moving in this direction in a permanent way.”

Mayor Darrel Olson noted the ultimate intent with requirements that septic systems, well  or piping for both be installed closest to where services will be accessed was to forewarn that the requirement for new houses to hook up to city services would return in the future. 

“I think that’s taking into effect that this isn’t meant to be long term,” Olson said. 

Olson noted the changes were made because the economy and project costs ultimately got in the way to maintaining the project dates on the improvement map. 

City Attorney Brad Person said at some point the city either had to get water and sewer pipe to property owners or let them build without it. Council member Rob Moser noted the city has come full circle with the changes, which were allowed years ago. 

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.