Meeting about water and sewer at Bellman#039;s planned

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Bellman's Addition residents and property owners along 10th Drive SE will learn about the prospects for water and sanitary sewer improvements.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners has scheduled an informational meeting, beginning 7 p.m. Monday. It will be held in the commissioners' meeting room in the lower level of the government center in downtown Austin.

Total anticipated project costs are $1 million and would have to be paid by the property owners.

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Michal Hanson, Mower County engineer, outlined the proposed project at Tuesday's county board meeting.

According to Hanson, early indications are that residents of Bellman's Addition want the sewer and water improvements, but property owners along 10th Drive SE are "split."

Bellman's Addition is located in Austin Township just outside the Austin city limits along U.S. Highway 218 S.

State officials have ruled the residential sub-division must have all wells and sewage treatment systems brought up to current standards.

No less than five options will be offered the residents and property owners, Hanson said.

Estimated costs for the Bellman's Addition work is $660,000, while the 10th Drive SE work could cost $330,000.

Among the considerations are how to assess the costs to make the improvements.

"This has been a very lengthy project dating back to the mid-1990s, when the Bellman's Addition residents first rejected using grant dollars to help pay for the project," said David Hillier, 3rd District Mower County Commissioner. "Now, I think, the residents of Bellman's Addition are anxious to have their sewer and water problems cleaned up."

Hillier said the commissioners are sympathetic with the anticipated huge costs for the work. They are all in the five-figure range, including some as high as $20,000.

Allowing four residents in the residential sub-division to hook-up to a single well is one way of holding expenses down.

The fact, however, that new water wells would have to be drilled as much as 500 feet deep off-set the anticipated savings.

Dick Lang, 4th District Mower County Commissioner, said, "I understand the costs to do this work are extremely high." Lang wanted to know if the work was absolutely necessary and Hillier said it was.

"The MPCA is very adamant. These problems need to be fixed. There's no doubt about that," he said.

Lang wondered if Mower County could pay any share of the costs and he was told "No."

"We're helping facilitate these improvements," said Ray Tucker, 4th District Mower County Commissioner. "That's all. There's no grant dollars available anymore. All the money will have to be paid back by the assessments."

Still to come is a final assessment hearing for Dinsmoor Acres residents.

Major public improvements to the residential sub-division at the south edge of the Austin city limits were completed with the residents assessing all of the costs.

Mower County has never paid a share of the costs to extend public improvements to rural residents.

In the case of the Dinsmoor Acres residents, the city of Austin has agreed to annex the properties into the city.

No matter what the cost to make the improvements to the Bellman's Addition and 10th Drive SE properties, one commissioner believes everyone must understand "that's the cost of doing business today."

"It would cost you as much as $28,000 for water and sewer just to build a home out in the middle of nowhere today," Tucker

said. "Just like everything else, it's going to cost a lot of money today."

Hanson plans to have hand-outs ready by Monday night's meeting, detailing the various options for the improvements and their anticipated costs to property owners.

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