EAST GULL LAKE - The East Gull Lake City Council Thursday decided against extending city sewer to the Sylvan Shores area after the majority of the standing-room-only crowd expressed opposition to the project.
But a few council members said they were offended by comments made by several of the Sylvan Shores residents who signed an online petition opposing the project. A few comments posted online accused the council of abusing the public's trust, of not caring what the public wants and of being liars.
"As I read some of these comments they are a bit disturbing," said council member Marty Carlson. "I think it's gone beyond where it really needs to be. ... How we got from there to here is mystifying. How can we be called liars - it's uncalled for. We're trying to be stewards of the land. It just doesn't make sense. If it's too expensive just say that."
Mayor Dave Kavanaugh explained that two informational meetings had been conducted Feb. 28 and April 15 about this project. He said about 25 residents had attended that Feb. 28 meeting and no one expressed opposition in the city conducting a feasibility study of the sewer system extension. The city council Thursday approved the 2008 road improvement projects, which included about 10 roads in the Sylvan Shores area. Kavanaugh said it made sense to the wastewater committee and city council to do both projects at the same time since waiting to do the sewer extension project would require the new roads be dug up and redone.
Several lakeshore owners along Sylvan Lake in this area expressed interest in hooking up to city sewer, said Kavanaugh.
Board member Neal Gaalswyk said the city also sent out a survey to residents to find out how they felt about hooking up to city sewer and several residents were in favor of it. Gaalswyk said he was offended that some people accused him and the rest of the council of not caring about what the residents think. He said he was assessed a $7,500 fee 10 years ago when he was forced to hook up to city sewer and, feeling powerless, said he told himself he would make sure no one else was treated as he was.
"I'm not a liar," said Gaalswyk. "I came here with an open mind. I want to know what you guys think."
Jeff Clark, a Fairway Road resident, said he saw the online comments and felt they were uncalled for, adding that he had been to all the public meetings and the process had been open and fair. However, Clark said he felt with the downturn of the economy that it might not be the right time for these assessments.
Greg Arens asked the council why residents need this project.
"I think you desire our money and our volume of sewage," said Arens. "I don't think we need it."
Gaalswyk explained that the city is concerned about protecting the lakes and water quality. He said the council is considering the development of an ordinance that would require individual septic systems undergo regular compliance checks.
If the Sylvan Shores Sanitary Sewer Extension project had been approved, the project was estimated to cost about $785,000 and 79 parcels would have been assessed $9,937 each, along with a $2,000 sewer connection fee. These numbers don't include the costs for homeowners to hire a private contractor to hook up to the sewer lines. While the council didn't approve the project, council members directed staff members to find out if it's feasible to extend sanitary sewer to 14 lakeshore properties along Sylvan View Drive in the Sylvan Shores area.
The council did approve the 2008 road improvement projects for Poplar Drive, Bass Lake Road and the 10 roads in the Sylvan Shores area at a total estimated cost of $1,254,000. Assessments for the 126 parcels would be about $2,488 each or about $240 a year for 15 years, a 25 percent share of the total cost. The city pays for the remaining 75 percent costs through the general levy.
Road improvements are expected to begin in August and be completed by sometime in October or November.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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