Improvements eyed at SE subdivision

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Residents of Bellman's Addition and property owners along 10th Drive SE have a decision to make.

Should they agree to major sanitary sewer and water improvements and the price-tag that comes with them?

"This is all about taxes," said Dick Lang, 4th District county commissioner. "We want to solve the problem at the least cost to the taxpayers."

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The Mower County Board of Commissioners has given the twin areas' residents and property owners until May 13, to share their opinions with elected officials. Then, the county board will decide.

The scenario is much like that posed for the Dinsmoor Acres sub-division. Located just outside the Austin city limits, the residents also had water and sanitary sewer problems. They agreed to have the improvements made and the project was completed last summer. Next month, they will learn what their assessments for the improvements are. When the city accepts the work, Dinsmoor Acres will be annexed.

The county board held an informational meeting Monday night. A large crowd filled the commissioners' meeting room to hear of the proposed improvements. Mower County Engineer Michal Hanson said explained the proposed work.

According to Hanson, the improvements could include:

n Sanitary sewer: Bellman's Addition and 10th Drive SE would get a gravity sanitary sewer system. Although there would be no new street improvements, there would be a lift station and force main which would outlet to the existing gravity sewer on 10th Drive Southeast.

n Water: Bellman's Addition has three options to consider: maintaining existing wells or drilling new ones, constructing a loop system designed by Austin Utilities or constructing a new, community-owned, deep-well system. Tenth Drive SE property owners would have only one option: extending the city water main with annexation of the area.

Estimated total sanitary sewer project costs for Bellman's Addition begin at $380,000.

No estimate was available for the first water option, but the second option -- the loop system -- would cost the residents of Bellman's Addition as much as $780,000. The third option of a community-owned deep-well system was placed at $250,000.

Tenth Drive SE property owners face an estimated sanitary sewer project cost of $201,300 for a system connecting with Bellman's Addition. Estimated water improvement costs range from $18 per frontage foot to $800 to $1,250 per service line connection.

Splitting the Bellman's Addition project costs among 23 parcel-owners would mean expenses of $12,950 to $17,100 per parcel without 10th Drive SE participation for sanitary sewer improvements only.

For sanitary sewer improvements and the community-owned deep-well system, the per parcel price-tag jumps to $24,600 to $28,750.

Tenth Drive SE property owners would have to pay $44.80 per frontage foot plus service line connection fees for sanitary sewer only. The same property owners would have to pay $18 per frontage foot plus service line installation for water services.

In addition, all property owners would have to pay additional costs including sanitary sewer

and water service line connection on private property, interior plumbing modifications, water meter, private well abandonment and surface restoration on private property.

Neither the city of Austin, Austin Utilities nor Mower County would pay for any of the expenses. However, Mower County would finance the project -- all of the properties in question are in Austin Township outside the Austin city limits -- and residents would repay through assessments with 6.5 percent interest charged.

Since 1995, the affected property owners have been discussing ways to bring their sewer and water systems up to modern standards after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency cited the areas for non-compliance.

Bellman's Addition is a residential subdivision along U.S. Highway 218 South. Tenth Drive SE connects the road to the city of Austin and there is a commercial/industrial development along the street.

Art Nelson, a property owner on the east side of 10th Drive SE near Jennings Salvage Yard, was the first to register opposition to the project. Mike Horvath, another east-side property owner, also registered opposition. Michael Hart, who said the owns two properties along the street, also said he was against the project. "It's not going to provide anything for me that I don't have now," Hart said said.

Steve Sollie, a west side property owner along 10th Drive SE, said, "I'm all for it."

Mike Bibus, a Bellman's Addition resident, said he was for it, but urged the county not to "tear up" the subdivisions streets and use right-of-way easement property to make the improvements.

At Scott Springer's suggestion, the county officials agreed to delay a decision until May 13 to allow more residents to make comments.

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