Property owners ask Pasco council to waive connection to city sewer services

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldMarch 25, 2013 

The Pasco City Council is facing its first test in how to handle large lots inside the "doughnut hole" since annexing part of the area this year.

Three property owners have asked the city to waive the requirement that they connect to city sewer services and instead allow them to have septic systems on the lots where they would like to build homes.

The city code requires connection to the city utility system when a building permit is issued unless the city council agrees to a waiver. In this case, city staffers said the waivers are a good idea.

The three properties -- one on Market Court and two on Maverick Court between Road 60 and Road 64 -- are 1,800 to 2,200 feet away from existing sewer lines, and Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel told the council at a workshop Monday that it wouldn't be cost-effective for either the property owners or the city to pay to extend sewer connections that far.

All three are surrounded by properties developed with septic systems, and they each are big enough to meet the standards for septic systems applied by the Benton Franklin Health District to allow installation, Strebel said.

"Staff believe the waivers are warranted," Strebel said.

City Manager Gary Crutchfield added that these three lots provide an opportunity to create a policy for how similar lots inside the doughnut hole will be handled in the future.

The doughnut hole area generally is south of Argent Road between Road 100 on the west and Road 44 to the east and Sylvester and Court streets to the south. About 4,000 people live there.

The city annexed part of the doughnut hole generally south of the Franklin County Irrigation District canal between Road 52 and Road 68 effective Jan. 1, bringing about 1,400 residents into Pasco and effectively blocking an effort to form a new city by doughnut hole residents who opposed annexation.

One concern often expressed by annexation opponents was the belief that the city would force them to connect to city water and sewer services instead of keeping their wells and septic systems.

Crutchfield said it may make sense to have smaller, more densely developed lots connect to city utilities -- especially if they're close to existing lines -- but that for large lots as far from existing lines as the ones under discussion Monday retaining septic systems seemed more logical.

"Staff doesn't see a compelling need to push sewer service in those areas," Crutchfield said. "These are the cards we're dealt, and we should play them as they need to be played so people see the city is walking the walk and not just talking the talk."

The council is scheduled to make a decision on the waivers at next Monday's meeting.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @mduplertch

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