Barry County Health Board tentatively schedules January public hearing

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Barry County Health Board discussed plans to hold a hearing in January 2014, to solicit public input on proposed changes to the wastewater system ordinance.

"We hear constant complaints from people about the sewage going into the lake, sewage going into the streams, and sewage going other places where it shouldn't go," said John Starchman, board president. "The only opportunity we've got, with the law we work under, and the rules that we have to follow to correct these things, is an ordinance like this."

Discussion of the measure took place during staff reports when Health Department Administrator Roger Brock reported on his request to the Barry County Board for their support on the property transfer certificate addition to the ordinance. Brock pointed out the county board's reluctance to support such a change without the input of the public.

"They would like for us to hold off on making any firm decisions on that until after we have a public hearing," said Brock. "The commissioners are going to reserve their opinion until after we have our public hearing and see what folks in the community are going to think about it."

At issue is a change to the current ordinance that would require an inspection of a landowner's wastewater system by an independent state-licensed inspector when property transfer is under consideration. This inspection would only be required if the system were older than 10 years.

The inspector would conduct an analysis of the system currently in place and determine if the system is in compliance with current standards. If the system were not, then it would need to be in compliance before the property is sold.

Starchman sees this modification to the ordinance as a way to protect potential homebuyers and he believes it's fair that a buyer knows a system is valid before the property is transferred.

"You can buy a piece of property with a house on it and think it's got a septic system that's adequate and discover very quickly that it's not," said Starchman. "Under the current ordinance, you can't put one back like it was -- you have to get a more advanced system that may cost thousands of dollars more than anticipated."

Both Beck and Starchman envision a scenario whereby once it's discovered that a system has failed, then the cost for modifications would become part of the sale negotiations.

Brock reported that it would be difficult to schedule a public hearing on short notice and suggested that the meeting be scheduled for January, 2014.

"It's hard to put together a public hearing as short as November or December," said Brock, "so we're going to try to have it in January prior to the board meeting."

In other action taken by the board, Brock was directed to approach a vendor who submitted a bid for the paving project at the Monett office and request a price for modifications that would increase the asphalt depth. The board authorized Brock to proceed with the project if the cost fell below a pre-set limit.

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