Septic ordinance task force to look at low-impact septic systems

At the October 28 meeting, Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson told the county board that some gaps in the proposed septic ordinance had been identified during the two Cook County Planning Commission public hearings.  In a memo to the board, he had written that “a substantial amount of feedback” was given at the first hearing on September 25.

Nelson said there was concern about a gap in the ordinance provisions regarding the treatment of very low volume grey water waste and the composting of human waste.  Nelson said, “This gap in the rules doesn’t take into consideration low-impact lifestyle choices that are made by some here in Cook County.” 

Nelson said after the first hearing, Environmental Health Officer Mitch Everson created a design for a lower-impact grey water system that would be sensitive to the low-impact living scenarios experienced here and that also would remain in line with existing state standards.” 

The concerns expressed at the first hearing were passed along to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) staff members, who offered to meet with Planning & Zoning staff and some of the concerned citizens.  Out of those two meetings came a plan to create a local task force that would meet with MPCA staff to explore options for low-impact septic systems.

The Planning Commission recommended that the task force be comprised of two county commissioners, two Planning Commission members, two Cook County Environmental Health staff members, and four concerned local property owners. Commissioners Jan Hall and Heidi Doo-Kirk will serve on the task force, with Commissioner Garry Gamble serving as an alternate. Property owners on the task force will be Ian Andress, Mark Adams, Stan Tull, and Charlie Muggley. 

The Planning Commission will wait until after it hears back from the task force in January to address the proposed septic ordinance again.  All Minnesota counties are required to have a septic ordinance that conforms to Minnesota rules by February 4, 2014, but Director Nelson said the state would be flexible if a county was actively working on an ordinance.