County mulls Bellmans Addition sewer options

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2002

A straw poll of Bellmans Addition residents showed they prefer the most expensive solution to their sanitary sewer and water problems.

Also, it is one that may offer long-term benefits to the residential subdivision south of Austin along U.S. Highway 218.

Meanwhile, property owners along 10th Drive Southeast are mixed over proposed improvements.

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Two informational meetings were held recently at the Mower County government center.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners invited all property owners in the adjoining areas to the meetings to hear Mike Hanson, Mower County Engineer, and other county staff explain the solutions for water and sewer problems that are over a decade old.

David Hillier, 3rd District Mower County Commissioner, told the property owners in Austin Township neither Mower County nor the city of Austin or Austin Utilities will offer any financial assistance.

According to Hillier, if the water and sewer improvement projects are approved, the property owners will share the costs with special assessments.

The plan will be similar to residents of Dinsmoor Acres, where a massive street, sewer and water improvement project is nearing conclusion this summer. Residents there are paying for the improvements over a 20-year period at a fixed rate of interest set by Mower County.

"It would certainly be a county-wide budget-buster if we would start paying for these private projects for individuals with tax dollars," observed Hillier.

The price-tag for the Bellmans Addition improvements includes $380,000 for sanitary sewer work.

Among three options for water improvements only one -- a community-owned deep well system -- had a cost estimate: $250,000. The other two options' cost estimates would depend upon the number of property owners who participate.

Hanson then estimated the costs per parcel in Bellmans Addition. For sanitary sewer service alone, it came to between $12,500 and $15,750 each.

For sanitary sewer and a "looped" water system from Austin Utilities, it came between $27,500 and $35,000.

For sanitary sewer and the deep well system, it came to $21,000 to $26,500.

Hanson computed the per parcel estimates using 25 to 32 parcels total.

In addition, Hanson estimated the Bellmans Addition property owners would also face additional costs of "several thousand dollars per parcel" for such items as service lines to private properties, interior plumbing, water meter, private well and septic system abandonment and surface restoration.

Hanson 'shocked'

When the 10th Drive Southeast informational meeting took over, Hanson admitted he was shocked.

"It leaves us in a quandary," Hanson said. "The Bellmans Addition people chose the most expensive waler loop option to solve their problems."

According to Hanson, the individual costs per parcel, if all the work is done, could reach $50,000.

If Bellmans Addition and 10th Drive Southeast property owners would split the costs -- 50-50 -- for the most expensive sewer and water option, the county engineer estimated the costs at $60 to $82 per frontage foot.

"The Mower County Board would have to decide how those costs are shared and make the assessments," Hanson said.

Also, the 10th Drive Southeast properties would be annexed into the city; much like the Dinsmoor Acres' residents' fate.

Owners could share

Hanson estimated the 10th Drive Southeast sewer improvement costs at $300,000 and the water improvements costs at $14 per frontage foot if the property owners tie into the looped water system favored by Bellmans Addition residents.

He also cautioned there would be additional costs of "several thousands of dollars" just like the Bellmans Addition residents could expect to incur.

Bill Buckley, county environmental health services director, said the Bellmans Addition wells -- a community well-serving several residents and the other individual wells -- were in noncompliance with today's water quality standards.

Meanwhile, the 10th Drive Southeast properties were, apparently, in compliance.

Austin Township Board chairman Richard Epley said, "We want to do what the residents want. Something has to be done."

While the majority of Bellmans Addition residents made their support for the improvements known, the others left some doubt.

As far as 10th Drive Southeast residents go, Jim Bennett of Roberts Speciality, said he favored the improvements and so did Steve Sollie and his wife, Kathy, owners of Midtown Auto Clinic.

'West side only'

Art Nelson, who owns four parcels of land with Mike Horvath, was opposed. Nelson suggested taking only the west side of 10th Drive Southeast into the sewer and water improvements project's scope.

When the two meetings concluded, Len Miller, 4th District Mower County Commissioner, observed, "It appears at this point

there is considerable interest."

The county board chair said formal public hearing son the proposed plans for both areas would be scheduled this fall.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at