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County to stall septic ordinance progress for now

Cook County Commissioners are not going forward with revisions to the septic system ordinance until they know where the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency stands. The county held a public hearing on a revised ordinance at the end of last year and was set to hold another this month. But that was before the MPCA changed the ground rules.

Planning Director Tim Nelson told the board Tuesday that several issues have surfaced since his office found out about new MPCA changes – all of which are “pretty major,” he said.

The issues include further MPCA changes to new rules on which counties have been basing their ordinance revisions. Many counties are objecting to these new changes, and are sending letters of opposition to the agency. Another issue for the county is the possible retirement its sanitarian/septic inspector, LeRoy Halberg.

Commissioner Bob Fenwick said he thought the county should hold off further consideration of a new septic ordinance until all the MPCA rule changes have been vetted. Commissioner Fritz Sobanja said his first reading of the proposed changes tells him it would mean a cost way beyond anything the county was prepared to fund. Nelson said the county is already pro-active in its septic program.

Commissioners agreed to draft a resolution of protest patterned after one already sent to the MPCA by Polk County commissioners. The resolution is expected to list a number of concerns and make the case that the county will continue to enforce current rules until such time as MPCA addresses its concerns and those of other objecting counties.