Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 15, 2001

Waverly wrestles with 'toxic' septic

By Lynda Jensen

The City of Waverly ordered a property owner to vacate her property during its meeting Tuesday as the result of a long-standing dispute over the sub-standard septic system at 902 Pacific Avenue.

The order will displace three renters living at the property, but comes on the heels of the city spending a great deal of time over the past few years trying to get owner Edith Ouverson to bring the sewer system into compliance with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Ouverson was before the council asking for an extension to install a private septic, but said she was having problems securing a contractor. At the beginning of October, she gave $40,000 to the city attorney toward construction of a private septic on her property. It was placed in a trust account.

Councilors quizzed her about when she started contacting contractors and expressed strong doubts that each unit would be hooked up properly.

"We can't go on another minute with this," Bush said. He likened the property's drain field to a chemical spill.

"That's toxic waste what you have there," agreed Maintenance Supervisor John Rassat.

Bush also expressed liability concerns, since the septic system problem has existed for so long that if someone contracted something from the discharge, the city could be sued by now, he said.

"It's been dragging on too long," Councilor Ken Hausladen said.

Ouverson asked for an extension, which was denied. Her money will be refunded.

The water is scheduled to be shut off as well.

Renters may leave behind large items such as couches, but must remove everything else needed, and cannot return or live there, City Attorney Rhonda Pagel said.

Previously, Ouverson was served with a 10-month notice by the building inspector to bring the septic system up to code. Her property was described as an "imminent threat" by inspector Loren Kohnen. This expired in August, Mayor Charles Bush noted.

Last year, the city actively pursued Ouverson to tie into the Highway 12 utility construction.

Ouverson refused a 20-year low interest arrangement that the city offered in March, in conjunction with the construction. Ouverson protested the cost, which was estimated at $54,000 at the time.

When this happened, Ouverson was warned by Bush that she would be shut down.

For the time being, Rassat suggested barricading the location, and hiring someone to haul out the contaminated fill.

The state will be contacted to determine how much contaminated fill will be removed.

All of this will be very expensive, Rassat noted, since it costs $300 each load to haul away, and it was a 15 yard load, he said.

The clean-up costs will be charged back to the owner.

Discussion of the Village Hall also took place during the work session Sept. 7, according to the minutes.

Financial expert Bob Ehlers advised the council that it did not have the available debt limit for renovation of the village hall, although the Economic Development Authority could bond for $1,000,000 for the renovation without going against the city's debt limit.

The council expressed concern that if the EDA went ahead with the financing, it could not make the debt payments for the building unless a substantial amount of revenue was received. Ehlers suggested designating a specific use for the building, such as city offices, to make the renovation beneficial.

The council briefly discussed the residential development planned for Carrigan Lake. This was also discussed at the work session.

Nate Bissonette, the legal representative of Tom Ryan, offered to draft all of the annexation documents so the city would not have to pay for costs associated with the annexation request.

Ryan plans to pursue a two-phase annexation of 80 acres south of Carrigan Lake. A development for upscale residential homes is planned on the east side of Carrigan Lake.

The council also discussed the city electronic sign. It was decided to ask for some support from the organizations who wish to use it such as the Knights of Columbus, Lions, and gun club, since the sign is expensive. The sign will cost $884 per month. The overall cost will be $28,000 for the sign.

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