County wants Sequim sewer lines in Carlsborg

Posted on Wednesday 21 April @ 03:26:50
Sequim Gazette

Hooking Carlsborg up to Sequim sewer is top on the county's list to move forward with planning goals for the community's urban growth area.

"We need to get ahead of infrastructure needs and sewer is the best way to do that," commissioner Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness, said. Tharinger suggested holding a joint meeting with city leaders to discuss the possibilities.
County associate planner Bruce Emery, who has been working with the Carlsborg Community Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for the area, said it would be best to come to an understanding with the city sooner rather than later.
Property owners should know if sewer will be going in that would make costly septic improvements obsolete, he said. Knowing if city leaders are interested or not, either way, would help the county move forward with the planning process for Carlsborg, Emery said.
Sequim city manager Bill Elliott said the idea of extending city sewer service to Carlsborg has been up for discussion for quite some time and is on the council's study session agenda April 21.
Although the city leaders aren't opposed to the concept, "there's a whole bunch of questions that need to be answered," Elliott said.
For example: How much effluent would be delivered to Sequim's sewers from Carlsborg, who would manage the Carlsborg system up to the delivery point with the city, and how much would it cost, he said.
"We're interested in making it work for them," Elliott said, noting that using the existing city sewer system would be much cheaper than building a separate system for Carlsborg.
Installing public sewer lines into Carlsborg had earlier been put on the backburner because of the high cost of building a Carlsborg treatment plant. Instead, the advisory committee focused on upgrading septic systems and including maintenance and operations agreements.
The recommendations for the future of Carlsborg - which also include street and sidewalk plans, and water service goals - are to be rolled into the ongoing update of the county comprehensive plan required by the state Growth Management Act. The first public hearing held by the planning commission is scheduled for April 28 in Sequim. Clallam County must act by Dec. 1 to review and, if needed, update its comprehensive plan and development regulations.
Tharinger told county staff to proceed with the septic plans because even if the city is willing to extend sewer to Carlsborg something needs to be in place to allow for growth and protect the environment in the interim.
The county had envisioned using Carlsborg as a model for septic maintenance and operation agreements around the county but to increase density in the urban growth area - and thereby potentially reduce build-out in rural areas as encouraged in the comprehensive plan - commissioners said sewer was needed.
"It's important for the future of that area," commissioner Mike Chapman, R-Port Angeles, said. "If we want growth, sewer is needed." If sewer lines are extended from Sequim to Carlsborg, they would have to cross the Dungeness River - either under or over it.
Tharinger said he's had some discussions with city leaders, who indicated they might be willing to accept the idea if the county covered the cost of getting a sewer line to the city. The county needs to determine how much that would cost.

Another issue is what the county's responsibility would be to increase the capacity of the Sequim treatment plant if that were needed in the future.
"If the city is providing sewer, what does it mean long term for Carlsborg's future," Tharinger asked, alluding to the possibility of a future annexation.
Tharinger later said annexation was a topic that might be brought up in the future should sewer lines be extended to Carlsborg but the important thing is that the infrastructure is needed.
In general, one of the unintended implications of urban growth area designations is that they concentrate growth in areas that often are later annexed by cities, removing significant chunks of the county's property and sales tax income, he said.
However, neither city nor county leaders anticipated sewer would necessarily lead to annexation of Carlsborg into Sequim.
Elliott noted that for now the city has no interest in extending its borders all the way to Carlsborg and called the chances of annexation "pretty remote," noting it would take an "awful lot of discussion" before it could happen.
Unless things were to change - for example with state environmental protection law or Sequim and Carlsborg residents both wanted annexation - Elliott said he doubted sewer service would be the first step on the path to annexation.
--by Leif Nesheim
Gazette staff writer
Published 4.21.04



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