County won’t help residents living near Dinsmoor Acres

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Thirteen residents who live near, but not in, Dinsmoor Acres are on their own.

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Thirteen residents who live near, but not in, Dinsmoor Acres are on their own.

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While residents of the subdivision at the south edge of the Austin city limits will be receiving major infrastructure improvements, 13 other nearby residents will not.

David Hillier, Third District Mower County commissioner, pitched the residents’ proposal that a feasibility study be conducted to see whether water and sanitary sewer services could be extended to their properties.

The plan was to compare those costs with what it will cost them to upgrade their own water wells and individual septic treatment systems.

Most of the 13 property owners live on the west side of 12th Street SW (Highway 105 South), which separates them from Dinsmoor Acres.

"Why are we involved?" Ray Tucker, Second District county commissioner, asked. "Dinsmoor Acres had a pollution problem and the township couldn’t help them and the city wouldn’t help them, so the county had to.

"These residents are outside the city limits and they don’t have a pollution problem, so why should we be involved?"

Hillier and Mower County Engineer Michael Hanson, met with the 13 unidentified residents and relayed their wishes to the county board at Tuesday’s meeting.

It was about a year ago when residents of Dinsmoor Acres subdivision and parcels fronting Fourth Drive SW between the south line of Dinsmoor Acres and 22nd Street SW heard the good-bad news.

Their individual septic treatment systems were failing and no longer met modern standards. In addition, there was the threat of contaminated well water.

While Austin Township, where the residences are located, could not fund the necessary upgrading, that left the city of Austin and Mower County.

The Austin City Council ruled the area would not be annexed into the city until new sanitary sewer and water mains, service lines, storm sewer, street lights, curb and gutter, stabilized base and bituminous pavement of streets was done.

The Austin City Council also ruled it would not pay for any of the total estimated $667,350 in improvements.

Mower County was forced to undertake the project and levy special assessments against the 46 parcels of land to pay for it.

According to Hanson, the final design and engineering plans should be completed later this month and the project ready for bid letting in June.

One of the reasons the 13 residents took their proposal to Commissioner Hillier was that a parcel of land is being sold and the county requires when property exchanges owners, the property’s individual septic system and well must be brought up to current standards.

Now, the property can’t be sold unless the sanitary sewer improvements are made.

Len Miller, Fourth District commissioner, recalled residents in the area rejected plans made years ago to extend city services south to Mower County 28.

Tucker repeated his assertion: "Dinsmoor has a special condition and when the township and the city couldn’t handle it, the county had to step in."

Hanson agreed with the assessment that Dinsmoor Acres is "in trouble." he said the existing septic systems there are "marginal at best.

Meanwhile, the 13 new parcels in question may be too small to allow mound systems to be constructed.

That’s what Bill Buckley, county environmental health services director, told Hillier and Hanson earlier: 13 residences in a three-block area does not allow for use of mound systems.

On this point, Tucker dissented. He said more than a half-dozen residents along Mower County No. 46 (Old Highway 16) east of the Austin Country Club are using a common mound system to handle their septic treatment needs.

Miller suggested the 13 residents petition the city of Austin for annexation at their own expense.

No action was taken on Hillier’s request that the county spend $5,000 for the feasibility study on behalf of 13 Austin Township residents, so the proposal "died."

On the subject of the proposed Dinsmoor Acres improvements, the county commissioners agreed to let bids on the work to be done at 1 p.m. June 14.

Then, a special assessment hearing will be held beginning at 7 p.m. June 19 to let the residents know what their actual costs will be based on the bids.

A contract for the work could be awarded June 27.

When the preliminary cost estimates were announced a year ago, many Dinsmoor Acres residents objected, saying the five-figure sums were exorbitant.

That’s why Miller cautioned the commissioners Tuesday: "I think it’s a good project, but I’m concerned. I expect there will be a lot of challenges to the assessments."