WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to proceed toward establishing a Southwest Leech Lake Sewer District.
The area would encompass portions of Shingobee and Turtle Lake townships lying about six miles east from Shingobee Bay of Leech Lake. It would run from about a mile and a half south of Highway 200 north to Leech Lake.
Included in the area would be the commercial area of the Y Junction of Highways 371 and 200 east of Walker. It also would include residential developments along Leech Lake, including Breezy and Stony points and the Leech Lake Reservation community of Onigum.
The board has appointed two dozen members to a Southwest Leech Lake Wastewater Planning Committee.
They include township, county and tribal government representatives, MPCA, DNR, U.S. Forest Service and lake association representatives.
There are 990 structures in the proposed district area, including 35 businesses and 20 resorts. One of the businesses is Northern Lights Casino.
County Sanitarian Craig Gilbertson told the county board the project could include several wastewater treatment sites, not necessarily one large site.
He estimated actual cost for providing community sewer service to properties in the area at $15,000 per property, noting the importance of obtaining grant funding for at least a portion of the project to hold down individual costs.
Gilbertson also reported Hackensack, with whom Leech Lake Reservation recently has been negotiating for treatment of sewage in the municipal system for Northern Lights, failed to receive a grant last week that might have covered expanding that city's treatment system.
On other environmental services issues Tuesday, Director Paul Fairbanks told the board he will have a county feedlot ordinance ready for the board to consider April 3.
That ordinance would apply to larger feedlot operations of 500 animal units or more. Smaller operations would continue to be governed only by state law, he said.
The board voted to buy a new baler for the county garbage transfer site north of Pine River from Recovery Systems Company of Hopkins for $132,143.
Cost will include removing the old baler from that facility.
Fairbanks reported about half the individual sewage treatment system installers working in the county indicated in a recent survey they would benefit at least some from having county inspectors available to do inspections Saturdays.
He said he will seek further comments from installers at an annual meeting with them later this month. The board will delay further consideration whether to provide Saturday inspections until after a report from that meeting.
Fairbanks said no new building permits will be issued for former state leased lots until a process to sell them is completed this spring.
Jane Van Hunnik, Mississippi Headwaters Board director, has sent a letter to the Cass County Land Department stating she believes there is a conflict in state laws authorizing the county to sell the former state leased lots.
She called for a moratorium on sales until the issue is clarified.
Virgil Foster, Cass County MHB board representative, said he believes Van Hunnik should have brought the issue to the MHB board before raising it with other officials.
Some of the 84 lots lie within Mississippi Headwaters zoning area along the river and connecting lakes.
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