Proposed Septic Change for St. Louis County

Posted at: 11/22/2013 5:43 PM
Updated at: 11/22/2013 10:49 PM

St. Louis County is looking at changing some of its septic ordinance. And one proposed change is making some local realtors concerned.

It has to do with the point of sale requirements.

If you have a home with a septic system, and you want to sell your home, you must have an inspection done. If your system doesn't meet a certain set of standards, you're supposed to have it replaced.

The director of the county's Environmental Services Department said that sometimes those upgrades don't get done. "We need those done, for public health and the environment," Ted Troolin explained.

To change that, they're proposing a change to the septic ordinance, that would require money set aside in an escrow account. That money would pay for the upgrade, and could be either from the seller, buyer, or a combination of both.

"The money would be an incentive," Troolin said. "If it's there, people can't use the excuse that they can't afford to do the upgrade."

But some local realtors are concerned with the escrow idea. Sarah Wisdorf, president of the Duluth Area Association of Realtors, said that it could be a burden for homeowners. "It also impacts homes sold in the winter, and could make it harder," she said.

She's talking about how septic inspections can't be done several months out of the year, because in northern Minnesota, the ground is frozen from about November to May. And if a homeowner can't prove the system is up to code, the escrow would be required.

Wisdorf said she and other realtors would prefer if the county would enforce the transfer agreements that are currently used when someone sells a home with a septic system. Those agreements lay out who's paying for the upgrade.

"We support fines for the people who don't upgrade their systems, like they're required to," Wisdorf told us.

The county said they are considering that idea as well. "We'll take anyone's ideas and look at them," Troolin said.

There are two public hearings. One is Monday at the Midway Town Hall, from 6-8pm. The other is Monday, December 2nd, at the Northland Office Building in Virginia , from 6-8. The public comment period for the proposed changes runs through December 9th.