A pair of proposals allowing the city of Medford and a proposed car club west of Dundas to connect its sanitary sewer lines to Faribault’s wastewater treatment plant got some pushback Tuesday.
Allowing both to connect to the city’s system, Faribault Public Works Director Travis Block said, could limit the city’s ability to grow.
City Council members were more amenable to Medford’s request than one made by developers of Wolf Creek Autobahn, a $150 million to $200 million proposal that anticipates 300 villas with large garages for car enthusiasts to store their prized vehicles. The project also includes 25,000 state-of-the-art clubhouse, a road track and possibly a service station.
The council, which first discussed the Medford request in August, was interested in pursuing the possible connection, though at the time Medford was also in discussions with the city of Owatonna about connecting to its utilities. Since then, the Medford council opted to pursue an agreement with Faribault.
Medford, which isn’t expected to make a final decision on a connection for at least a year, has two main problems: its wastewater treatment facility needs to be upgraded while the city, because of its size, continues to have trouble hiring and keeping wastewater operators.
Because any Medford or Wolf Creek utility customers won’t be paying city taxes, Block and City Administrator Tim Murray recommended increasing connection fees for properties outside city limits.
The council agreed it’s not interested in providing water to out-of-town customers, but felt that sanitary sewer connections should be permitted with certain restrictions.
Those connections would be more expensive for Medford and Wolf Creek customers, the council agreed, settling on a 1.5 multiplier for Medford and a multiplier of 2 for Wolf Creek.
“It’s a significant benefit they’re going to be getting,” said Block. “It just makes fiscal sense for us to be doing it.”
Block recommended that service boundaries be clearly established, that the number of connections be identified in any agreement and that any adjustments to an agreement require council approval. He also suggested that if the Wolf Creek project moves forward that its sanitary sewer system be owned and operated by Rice County. The Roberds Lake system, which connects to Faribault, is likewise owned and operated by the county.
“We want to have an agreement with governmental entities,” said Murray. “They survive and they pay.”
There was some discussion about the amount of water Faribault’s system can handle and ensuring that there’s sufficient capacity for a large water customer, like Faribault Foods, to locate in the city.
The biggest issue, Block said, is that while the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which permits wastewater treatment plants, may allow increased discharge, it may not allow the city to increase the amount of organic matter it’s discharging. That, he said, could be a significant and costly issue.