Health Board discusses upcoming public hearing scheduled for Jan. 9

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

By Kerry Hays

The Barry County Health Board spent a considerable amount of time during their regular board meeting Thursday night discussing the upcoming public hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2014, beginning at 7p.m. in the FEMA Event Center. The purpose of this meeting is to gauge the public's reaction to a proposed change to the wastewater ordinance.

"We're proposing a change to the ordinance that will require an inspection whenever property is transferred to verify that the septic systems that are in place are appropriate," said John Starchman, board president.

Starchman was responding to a question raised by newly appointed board member Jim Brasel who was asking for clarification about the proposed change to the ordinance. Other members of the board also helped clarify the issue.

"We unfortunately have had people in here frequently who have bought a piece of property and had no idea what they were buying," said Jan Thomas, board member. "When they have a problem and they contact an installer, they [discover] it's a $20,000 repair job and there's nowhere to go with it right now."

Roger Brock, administrator for the agency, noted that the proposed change will not affect the costs associated with the necessary repairs. What the change will do is make both the seller and the buyer aware of the costs needed before the property changes hands so that those costs can become part of the negotiations.

"The system doesn't know who owns it, it doesn't have any idea who owns it," said Brock. "So when you have to put one in, it's going to be an expense regardless of whether the property's sold or it's a hundred-year-old house that's been in the family forever, and they fix it on their own. There's not any way that the property transfer [proposal] will have an actual cost effect except for a small amount of fees. There may be a perception that it's going to make people spend more money only because it's going to have to be fixed right then rather than being put off for the future."

Brasel appreciated the input provided by each of the board members and offered his opinion near the end of the discussion.

"I can't get it into my head why somebody wouldn't want to have a system that works properly," Brasel said. "It's to their benefit and to their own health benefit."

In other action taken during the meeting, the board approved a wastewater variance request made by Red Barn Antiques in Shell Knob. Brasel questioned if approving this type of request would set a precedence, but Brock explained the nature of the ordinance, which allows for flexibility.

"Every request is viewed on a case-by-case basis," said Brock. "Every site has a different twist or turn to it. We don't want to set a precedent of a hard line with any particular system on any particular lot because there's a differential in soils and what you have to have in just about any lot in the county."

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