July 30, 2001
Residents: Use criteria for sewer allocations
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL - The City Council here is facing an unenviable task ‹ how to allocate 140 potential sewer hookups that will become available if the city's discharge permit is revised by the Department of Ecology. The revision of the permit is contingent on improvements being completed to the sewage treatment plant's outfall pipe. The work is expected to be finished by mid-August.
Because of the improvements, consultants have told the city that the plant will be able to treat 140 more equivalent residential units (ERUs). Each ERU means one single family house, or one equivalent to a single family house. But 140 units is all that will be allowed, they say, until a significant plant expansion is completed, at least five years away.
Because of plant limitations, a building application moratorium has been in place for over two years. As a result, there is much demand for those 140 spots. A public hearing on the matter last week overflowed with residents, many of whom were frustrated that they have not been able to sell or develop their property, whether residential or commercial, due to the moratorium.
The City Council had suggested a lottery for the prized allotments, but that idea was criticized by many residents, who favored using a list of criteria instead.
Some residents pleaded their cases by suggesting criteria be used that would favor allotments to businesses beneficial to the community, that have a low impact to the sewer system and a minimal impact to traffic or are located in Old Town.
Others just pleaded for help.
Former business owner Arline Wallace told the council she can't sell her building, the former "Old Memories" antique store in the north end of town.
"I speak for the business community," she said. "I shut my business down, not thinking I would have any problem selling, but when buyers learned they couldn't change anything in the building, they backed out. Insurance on an empty building is expensive. I don't want the business community to be forgotten. Empty businesses look bad for a town. I want you to know that I'm here and I'm hurting."
Donald Palmer, who represents the Duvall congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, reminded the council that the church has been trying to get their property annexed since 1993 so they could build a Kingdom Hall.
"We have been trying to get it built ever since," he said. "We have many older people who have to travel to Monroe, and that is difficult for them."
Resident Becky Nixon urged the City Council and the mayor to "take care of the people in town. This is their city government and they paid for this plant. Downtown people have the right to expand and sell their property. Take care of the citizens and downtown business first."
Longtime resident Verle Bowe told the council she and others in Old Duvall were "assessed every square inch in 1976 and '77. We were never told this may not be available to us."
Bowe, who wants to subdivide her property into five lots, says she is the victim of poor advice given to her by then-city employees and because of that probably waited too long to file her application.
Bill Losleben, owner of The Victorian, a former bed and breakfast next to Safeway, said his property is zoned commercial, but he cannot sell it due to the moratorium.
"I have lived here 32 years, and I believe date of annexation should be a priority," he said.
Tim Lockwood, manager of Hopelink in Carnation, put his bid in for more human services agencies to be located in Duvall.
"I suggest you give some sewer capacity to Friends of Youth," he told the council. "It is a human service agency. A lottery doesn't sit well. You are appointed or elected to make decisions, and not to try to get out of it by holding a lottery."
Then there was the request by former Councilmember Kass Holdeman for restrooms for the not-yet-built athletic fields at Cedarcrest.
"Put Cedarcrest at the top of the list," she urged the council. "We finally passed the athletic fields bond but the facility needs restrooms. This is a challenge. There are a lot of good projects and extensive criteria is needed."
Another public hearing on the sewer allotment is planned for the next council meeting, which will be on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Rose Room of the Duvall Library.