WALKER -- The Cass County Board appointed five people to the Shingobee Sewer District Board on Tuesday, to serve from this date forward.
Commissioners' action followed a closed meeting with County Attorney Earl Maus about the sewer district, pending litigation between a former sewer board and Mark and Kathy Schimer, who want to connect property they own to the Shingobee system.
The board selected three people from a list of applicants attorney John Valen recommended. He represents the former sewer board in the pending litigation.
Those appointees include former board members Bill Bedford (three-year term) and Ann Nolan (one-year term) and a new member, Daniel Fillman.
The board selected two people from a list of applicants attorney Steven Baker recommended. He represents the Schimers in the lawsuit.
Those appointees include Kathy Schimer (two-year term) and Neil Holter (four-year term).
Board members must own property on Shingobee Island near Walker, served by the sewer system. Ex-officio, non-voting members include the Fourth District county commissioner and sanitarian.
The county board appointed the first sewer board for that district when the system was installed in the mid-1990s, but failed to make new or renewed appointments when initial terms of office expired.
Since then, various property owners have served on the board without formal appointment, though Valen said they have served as volunteers, serving in good faith and believing they had the authority to do so.
When the Schimers proposed to build and open a restaurant on Shingobee Island about a year ago, the sewer board turned down their request to connect to the system on the grounds the sewer board believed the system was not large enough to handle the additional sewage the restaurant potentially would generate.
The Schimers filed a lawsuit, contending the system is sufficient and that they should be granted a connection. It was at that time that it was discovered the existing sewer board had not officially been appointed by the county board.
The commissioners declined Tuesday to make the new appointments retroactive to any point in time, because Maus has advised them the sewer board's validity could become an issue in the lawsuit. Maus has recommended the board not become involved in issues that could arise in the suit.
State statutes require sewer board members to serve for four-year terms and until their successors are appointed and qualify, with terms to rotate, so as nearly as possible an equal number of members will be replaced or reappointed annually.
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