Benton County planners back septic system ordinance - Arkansas Online

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County planners on Wednesday endorsed requiring inspection of septic systems before property is sold or transferred.

John Sudduth, general services administrator, who oversees the planning and environmental services departments, said the ordinance is needed to address a long-standing problem. Sudduth said the proposal will protect people buying and selling property and help protect the environment as well.

"This is something I think is going to be very beneficial to Benton County as a whole," Sudduth said.

Ashley Tucker, Planning Board member, said the ordinance is a needed first step and he would like to see officials do more.

"I would like to see it happen when property is subdivided, not just when it's sold," Tucker said.

The proposal was developed by members of the Land Use Committee that recently revised planning and development regulations. James Gately and Larry Kelly, members of the committee, headed the presentations made to the planners and justices of the peace.

The men said the need to identify and ensure function of septic systems was clear to the committee during the earlier process but members agreed it needed to be addressed separately. Gately said the goal is to protect the residents' health and safety. He said many property owners don't maintain septic systems or fail to maintain them properly, causing problems when the wastewater escapes into the porous karst limestone formations under much of Benton County. He presented information on a gasoline leak and other incidents where water wells off site were contaminated.

Gately has presented photos showing examples of failed septic systems and information on how leaks can affect wells and even larger bodies of water. He has also offered photos of algae blooms in Table Rock Lake and Grand Lake of the Cherokees caused by high phosphorus levels and spoke of the need to protect Beaver Lake, an important part of the local tourism economy and the source of drinking water for much of Northwest Arkansas.

Kelly said he has dealt with properties with failing septic systems and the problem is widespread. State law didn't require permits for septic systems until 1977 and parcels more than 10 acres were exempt until 1999.

The Planning Board also reviewed an emergency services station proposed by Carroll Electric on company property near Garfield. The board discussed the site plan for the station during the Technical Advisory Committee portion of its Wednesday meeting. The project will be the subject of a public hearing by the board on Sept. 16.

Mike Jorgenson of Carroll Electric said the facility will be at the northeast corner of Arkansas 59 and Mount Olive Road between Gravette and Decatur. He said it will be an emergency service center for Carroll Electric to provide a quick response during inclement weather.

"You won't have 30 trucks daily but in the event of an ice storm you're going to have several trucks coming and going," he said.

The 18,500 square-foot building will have offices for two or three employees, 14 indoor truck bays, two outdoor fuel storage tanks and a refueling area, and outdoor storage for electric poles and other material. The facility will not be open for customers to pay their bills. The board questioned Jorgenson about landscape buffers for neighboring residences, drainage on the site and whether water pressure from a proposed six-inch water line extension will be adequate for fire protection purposes.

NW News on 09/03/2015

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